North Korea Tests New Missiles, Including Cruise Missile Warhead and Anti-Aircraft Weapon

Pyongyang insists that the launches were routine and had nothing to do with the rising tensions on the peninsula

North Korea has successfully tested a “super-large warhead” for a cruise missile and a new type of anti-aircraft munition, state-run KCNA news agency has reported.

The “test of power” of the warhead for the Hwasal-1Ra-3 strategic cruise missile and launch of the Pyoltsi-1-2 anti-aircraft missile took place on Friday in the Yellow Sea, the agency said on Saturday. “The tests achieved purposes concerned,” it noted.

KCNA said the “tests are parts of normal works of national defense research institutions… and have nothing to do with [the] situation” on the Korean Peninsula.

According to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, it was the first time Pyongyang has mentioned the ‘Pyoltsi’ system, which means ‘meteor’ in Korean.

South Korea’s military said it detected several cruise missile and anti-aircraft missile launches by the North toward the Yellow Sea at around 3:30pm local time on Friday. Detailed specifications of the weapons are now being analyzed, it added.

“Our military has been closely monitoring signs of North Korea’s provocations and military activities, while maintaining the robust combined defense posture,” Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Pyongyang, which remains under international sanctions over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs, has intensified weapons testing since the New Year’s declaration of the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, that he is ending the policy of seeking reconciliation with the South.

According to Yonhap, Friday marked the sixth cruise missile launch by North Korea in 2024.

The Japanese authorities warned last year that ballistic missiles developed by the North “can reach anywhere” on the US mainland. Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo, in an attempt to contain Pyongyang, agreed in 2023 to stage annual multi-domain exercises, share real-time data on North Korean missile launches, and open a hotline for crisis communications.

The three countries held naval drills involving an American aircraft carrier in international waters between South Korea and Japan last week to ensure readiness against nuclear and missile threats from Pyongyang.

Kim said earlier this month that “now is the time to be more thoroughly prepared for a war than ever before” due to the “uncertain and unstable” situation on the peninsula. He promised to deliver a “death-blow” to Pyongyang’s “enemies” if they attack the country.