North Korea on Wednesday fired what it described as a “strategic weapon of great significance” in line with Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un’s call to strengthen the country’s military might. In a statement, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea fired the unidentified projectile toward the waters of the Korean Peninsula's east coast, two days after the North announced its first weapons test in six months. On Monday, North Korea said it had tested the “new type long-range cruise missiles” twice over the weekend that it said hit targets 1,500 kilometer away, a range covering Japan and the American military bases there. The Korean Central News Agency said the cruise missiles had been under development for two years.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi Wednesday met his South Korean counterpart in Wednesday to discuss North Korea's nuclear missile programme. He also expected to hold meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and other senior officials.
The latest test could further derail North Korea's nuclear talks with the United States, which were stalled in 2019 after Washington rejected Pyongyang's demand for lifting of sanctions in exchange for dismantling an aging nuclear facility. North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong Un has asked the Joe Biden administration to abandon “hostile” US policies towards his nation for resumption of dialogue.
Joseph Dempsey, research associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said on Twitter that North Korea was, technically, already in possession of cruise missiles, albeit a "shorter range anti-ship system – the Kumsong-3 (KN-SS-N-2 Stormpetrel) based on the Soviet Kh-35.”
Dr Jagannath Panda, coordinator of the East Asia Centre at MP-IDSA, New Delhi, told The Indian Express that there was nothing unusual about North Korea's latest test, but its long range could have "strategic relevance for a particular region.”