N. Korea says it conducted launch of ‘Hwasal-2′ strategic cruise missile

January 31, 2024

North Korea said Wednesday it conducted a drill to launch the Hwasal-2 strategic cruise missile the previous day to check its rapid counterattack posture and improve its strategic striking capability.

The launch in the Yellow Sea had “no adverse effect on the security of a neighboring country,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said without giving further details, including how many missiles were launched and how far they flew.

South Korea had said Tuesday the North fired several cruise missiles off the west coast.

Photos released by the KCNA showed a Hwasal-2 cruise missile flying at a low altitude.

Cruise missiles, powered by jet engines, fly low and maneuver, making them hard to detect and intercept.

White stripes were visible on the dark-colored body of the missile, resembling the appearance of a Hwasal-1 cruise missile that was previously launched.

The North first test-fired the Hwasal-1 and Hwasal-2 cruise missiles in September 2021 and January 2022, respectively, and has since launched several Hwasal-1 and Hwasal-2 missiles that are presumed to have a normal flight range of 1,500 kilometers and 2,000 kilometers, respectively.

While the launch of a cruise missile is not a violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions banning the North’s use of ballistic missile technology, it could pose a serious threat to security as nuclear warheads can be mounted on such missiles.

The latest launch marked the North’s third cruise missile launch in a week.

On Sunday, North Korea test-fired a newly developed submarine-launched strategic cruise missile, named the “Pulhwasal-3-31,” near Sinpo, a major shipyard for submarines, just days after the strategic cruise missile was tested for the first time last Wednesday.

Hwasal means “arrow” in Korean, and Pulhwasal means “fire arrow.”

North Korea has dialed up tensions on the Korean Peninsula in the new year — an election year for South Korea and the United States — with weapons tests and hard-worded rhetoric.

The string of launches comes in what appears to be an effort to strengthen its capabilities to deliver nuclear warheads. Earlier this month, the North fired a solid-fuel hypersonic missile and launched what it claimed was an underwater nuclear attack drone.

During a year-end party meeting, Kim Jong-un defined inter-Korean ties as relations between “two states hostile to each other” and vowed to “suppress” South Korea’s whole territory in the event of a contingency.

At the latest parliamentary meeting, Kim called for revising the country’s constitution to define South Korea as the North’s “primary foe” and announced the country will abandon its decadeslong policy of seeking reconciliation and unification with the South.