North Korea launches more new-generation cruise missiles amid growing tensions

Pyongyang, North Korea - North Korea fired another round of cruise missiles on Tuesday, according to Seoul's military, extending a week-long flurry of tests that Pyongyang has said include a new generation of weapons.

North Korea launched what it says is a new generation of cruise missiles for the third time in less than a week.
North Korea launched what it says is a new generation of cruise missiles for the third time in less than a week.  © REUTERS

South Korea's military "detected several unknown cruise missiles launched into the West Sea of North Korea around 07:00 (5 PM ET Monday)", Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

South Korean and US intelligence agencies "are conducting a detailed analysis", the JCS said.

"Our military is cooperating closely with the U.S. while strengthening surveillance and vigilance, and is closely monitoring North Korea's activities," it added.

North Korea fires volley of ballistic missiles following poop balloon barrage
North Korea North Korea fires volley of ballistic missiles following poop balloon barrage

Unlike their ballistic counterparts, the testing of cruise missiles is not banned under current UN sanctions on Pyongyang, but the country 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.

On Monday, state media said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had overseen the test launch of a new strategic cruise missile from a submarine.

Last week, Pyongyang said it had also conducted its first test of a new generation of strategic cruise missiles.

Inter-Korean tensions increasing

North Korean Kim Jong-un has been ratcheting up rhetoric against South Korea recently.
North Korean Kim Jong-un has been ratcheting up rhetoric against South Korea recently.  © via REUTERS

Recent months have seen a sharp deterioration in ties between the two Koreas, with both sides jettisoning key tension-reducing agreements, ramping up frontier security, and conducting live-fire drills along the border.

Kim has declared the South a "principal enemy," closed agencies dedicated to reunification and outreach, and threatened war over "even 0.001 millimeters" of territorial infringement.

He also said Pyongyang would not recognize the two countries' de facto maritime border, the Northern Limit Line, and called for constitutional changes allowing the North to "occupy" Seoul in war, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said.

Pyongyang's latest launch comes after South Korea conducted a 10-day special forces infiltration drill off the country's east coast, "in light of serious security situations" with the North, which ended on January 25.

Cover photo: REUTERS

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