28 January 2024

South Korea says North Korea has fired several cruise missiles off east coast

28 January 2024

South Korea’s military said on Sunday that North Korea fired several cruise missiles from waters off an eastern military port in the country’s latest weapons demonstration.

It comes in the face of deepening tensions with the United States, South Korea and Japan.

The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff did not immediately say how many missiles were fired or how far they flew. It was not immediately clear how the launches were conducted, although the North has previously tested cruise missiles from sea assets.

They said they detected the missiles over waters near the North Korean port of Sinpo, where the North has a major shipyard building key naval vessels, including missile-firing submarines.

The launches were North Korea’s third-known launch event of 2024, following a previous round of cruise missile tests on January 24 and a January 14 test-firing of the country’s first solid-fuel intermediate-range ballistic missile.

North Korea said its launches last week involved a new cruise missile called Pulhwasal-3-31 and described the test as part of regular efforts to develop its military.

The North described that missile as “strategic”, implying a possible intent to arm it with nuclear weapons.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have increased in recent months as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un continues to accelerate his weapons development and issue provocative threats of nuclear conflict with the US and its Asian allies.

The US, South Korea and Japan, in response, have been expanding their combined military exercises, which Mr Kim portrays as invasion rehearsals, and sharpening their deterrence strategies built around nuclear-capable US assets.

Since 2021, North Korea has conducted at least 10 rounds of tests of what it described as long-range cruise missiles fired from both land and sea.

The country claims its weapons are nuclear-capable, and their range is up to 1,242 miles, a distance that would include US military bases in Japan.

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