North Korea tests first long-range cruise missile
Japan has said it is "extremely concerned" by the test
North Korea has tested a new long-range missile, which it has described as a "strategic weapon of great significance".
The official KCNA news agency says the missiles travelled up to 1,500km (930 miles) before landing in North Korea's territorial waters. If true, this would make the missiles capable of hitting much of Japan.
The missile tests come despite reports in July that the country was running out of food.
The US military said the tests posed threats to the international community and further evidenced North Korea's "continuing focus on developing its military programme". It reiterated its commitment to defend allies South Korea and Japan, saying it "remains ironclad"
In a statement, the US Indo-Pacific command said: "This activity highlights [North Korea’s] continuing focus on developing its military program and the threats that poses to its neighbours and the international community."
Japan's chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato said the country has "significant concerns" over the reports and would continue to work closely with the US and South Korea to monitor the situation.
There are concerns that the missiles may also be capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Good reminder: today's test is *not* North Korea's first cruise missile; it is, however, North Korea's first long-range (1,000 km+) cruise missile and first claimed nuclear-capable cruise missile. https://t.co/4piF9TpqeN
— Ankit Panda (@nktpnd) September 12, 2021
Whilst UN Security Council sanctions forbid North Korea from testing ballistic missiles, they do not cover cruise missiles such as these.
This is because ballistic missiles are considered to be more threatening than cruise missiles as they can carry bigger and more powerful payloads, have a much longer range, and can fly faster.
In March this year though, North Korea defied sanctions and tested ballistic missiles, which triggered a strong rebuke from the US, Japan, and South Korea.
Last month, the UN atomic agency said the country appeared to have restarted a reactor that could produce plutonium for nuclear weapons, which it called a "deeply troubling" development.