NORTH Korea has successfully test-fired a new long-range cruise missile, its state media has claimed.
In the report, released today, the hermit kingdom said that the missile hit a target 930 miles away over the weekend.
The missiles fell into the country’s territorial waters both on Saturday and Sunday.
There to observe the launch were leaders of the Worker’s Party of Korea and other leading officials and scientists from the defence sector.
The statement hailed the launch as “a strategic weapon of great significance” in the defence department’s five-year plan.
It comes after a top US military commander issued a chilling warning to North Korea and said “I’m ready 24/7, 365” if the missile is launched.
Gen. Glen VanHerck said America “continues to be ready to respond, should North Korea elect to launch a missile”, in a briefing on Friday.
He told reporters in a Department of Defense press briefing: “I’m ready 24/7, 365, if…North Korea decides to launch a ballistic missile.
“I’m confident in our capabilities.
“We continue to be ready to respond, should North Korea elect to launch a missile.”
Gen. VanHerck had been responding to a question on “a report on the restart of North Korea’s nuclear reactors.”
In recent months, the reclusive country has warned it would expand its nuclear program if the United States doesn’t withdraw its hostile policy on the North, in an apparent reference to US-led sanctions and regular US-South Korean military drills.
In August, the International Atomic Energy Agency said the country appeared to have restarted operations at its nuclear reactor that had been shut down for three years.
The plutonium-producing reactor at Yongbyon has stood inactive since December 2018 – but in July was reportedly seen discharging cooling water.
Plutonium – one of the two key ingredients used to build nuclear weapons along with highly enriched uranium – is produced at the complex, which has a 5-megawatt reactor.
“Since early July, there have been indications, including the discharge of cooling water, consistent with the operation of the reactor,” the agency’s annual report on North Korea’s nuclear activity reads.
It also notes that the Yongbyon reactor appears to have been inactive from December 2018 until the beginning of July this year.
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