North Korea announced on Wednesday that it conducted a test of its new strategic cruise missile, as reported by state media KCNA on Thursday, confirming a statement made by the South Korean military a day earlier. State media stated that the missile, named ” Pulhwasal-3-31,” is still in the developmental phase, and its test-firing had no impact on the security of neighbouring countries. The regional situation is described as having “no relevance.”
According to the missile administration, the test was part of the process to update the country’s weapon system. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that the firing aimed to assess the improvements in the capabilities of existing missiles.
On Wednesday, the South Korean military reported that North Korea launched several cruise missiles towards the sea from its western coast around 7 a.m. (2200 GMT on Tuesday). Meanwhile, South Korean Defence Minister Shin Won-sik condemned the launches, considering them a serious threat to his country.
The term “strategic” usually refers to nuclear-capable weapons. North Korea had previously tested a potential nuclear-capable cruise missile in September 2021.
On Thursday, South Korea announced its plans to deploy medium-altitude drones on a large scale by 2027, with the goal of enhancing surveillance capabilities and contributing to defense exports. The country is also focusing on improving monitoring capabilities and defence exports.
North Korea’s cruise missiles typically generate less international concern compared to ballistic missiles since any United Nations Security Council resolutions do not explicitly prohibit them. However, analysts have pointed out that medium-range, ground-launched cruise missiles pose less danger than ballistic missiles and represent a significant capability for North Korea.
Cruise missiles and short-range ballistic missiles, which can be conventionally or nuclear-armed, are viewed as particularly destabilizing in conflict situations since it may not be clear what type of warhead they are carrying.
In summary, North Korea’s recent test of the Pulhwasal-3-31 cruise missile has raised regional tensions, prompting condemnation from South Korea. The missile is still in the developmental stage, and North Korea insists that the test had no impact on the security of neighbouring countries. South Korea, on the other hand, is actively working on enhancing its surveillance and defense capabilities, including the production of medium-altitude drones. The distinction between cruise missiles and ballistic missiles remains crucial in assessing the level of threat posed by North Korea’s military developments.
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