North Korean officials announced in the country’s media they test-fired long-range missiles on Saturday and Sunday and allegedly hit a target 1,500 kilometers away. The missiles flew for over two hours. The officials claimed the test was successful, and said the missile is “a strategic weapon of great significance.” The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement that they were “aware of reports” that the country had launched cruise missiles. “We will continue to monitor the situation and are consulting closely with our allies and partners. This activity highlights DPRK’s continuing focus on developing its military program and the threats that poses to its neighbors and the international community,” it said. Chief nuclear negotiators from the United States, South Korea and Japan are set to meet in Tokyo on Monday to discuss nuclear negotiations with North Korea that have been stalled since 2019.
It’s also known that Yongbyon Experimental Nuclear Power Plant’s radiochemical laboratory had been in operation between mid-February and early July. Kim during a congress of the ruling Workers’ Party in January doubled down on his pledge to bolster his nuclear deterrent in the face of U.S. sanctions and pressure. He also said then that his national defense scientists were developing “intermediate-range cruise missiles with the most powerful warheads in the world.”