Seoul,):North Korea fired several cruise missiles towards the Yellow Sea on Wednesday, Seoul’s military said, the latest in a series of tension-raising moves by the nuclear-armed state.
Hours later, North Korea appeared to confirm the firing, saying it had carried out its first test of a new generation of strategic cruise missiles it is developing, the Pulhwasal-3-31.
Pyongyang has accelerated weapons testing in the new year, including tests of what it called an “underwater nuclear weapon system” and a solid-fuelled hypersonic ballistic missile.
“Our military detected several cruise missiles launched by North Korea towards the Yellow Sea at around 7:00 am today,” the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
Unlike their ballistic counterparts, the testing of cruise missiles is not banned under current UN sanctions against Pyongyang.
Cruise missiles tend to be jet-propelled and fly at a lower altitude than more sophisticated ballistic missiles, making them harder to detect and intercept.
North Korea insisted Thursday the test the previous day was “a process of constant updating of the weapon system and a regular and obligatory activity,” the state news agency KCNA said. It did not specify how many missiles were fired.
“The test-fire had no impact on the security of neighboring countries and has nothing to do with the regional situation,” the agency said.
The latest launch comes as South Korea is conducting a 10-day special forces infiltration drill off its east coast, “in light of serious security situations” with the North, that runs until Thursday, according to the South’s navy.
“We will achieve our mission to infiltrate deep into the enemy’s territory and neutralize them completely under any circumstances,” the drill’s commander said in a statement.