Pyongyang (North Korea) | Jagran News Desk: In what could escalate tensions between Pyongyang and Washington once again, North Korea this weekend successfully test-fired newly developed long-range cruise missiles in an attempt to expand its military capabilities.

In a statement, the state-sponsored Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said that the missiles demonstrated an ability to hit targets 1,500 km away during the tests. Releasing the pictures of the tests, the North Korean state media called the missiles a "strategic weapon of great significance".

As per the KCNA, the cruise missiles travelled for over 7,500 seconds "along an oval and pattern-8 flight orbits in the air" to hit the target that was 1,500 km away. It said that the tests were conducted in the territorial land and waters of North Korea.

"The test launches showed that the technical indices such as the thrust power of the newly developed turbine-blast engine, the missiles' navigation control and the end guided hit accuracy by the combined guided mode met the requirements of designs. In all, the efficiency and practicality of the weapon system operation was confirmed to be excellent," it said.

How North Korea's cruise missile tests can affect the dynamics at the Korean peninsula?

North Korea is under international sanctions for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes. However, it can develop and test cruise missiles.

Regional observers and experts believe that these missile tests by North Korea pose "a considerable threat". Speaking to AFP, Park Won-gon, professor of North Korean Studies at Ewha Woman's University, said that the missile tests were conducted in response to joint South Korea-US military drills last month.

"If the North has sufficiently miniaturised a nuclear warhead, it can be loaded onto a cruise missile as well," Park told AFP. "It's very likely that there will be more tests for the development of various weapons systems".

Jeffrey Lewis, an expert at Middlebury Institute for International Studies, also expressed similar concerns and said that these missiles can deliver warheads "throughout South Korea and Japan".

"An intermediate-range land-attack cruise missile is a pretty serious capability for North Korea," he said in a Tweet. "This is another system that is designed to fly under missile defence radars or around them."

What do the US and South Korea have to say?

The US, which has stalled talks with North Korea since the collapse of a summit between then-president Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in 2019, said that the tests pose "threats" to countries in the region, especially South Korea and Japan.

"This activity highlights DPRK's continuing focus on developing its military program and the threats that poses to its neighbours and the international community," the US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement.

Meanwhile, South Korea has said that it is "conducting a detailed analysis" along with the US intelligence agencies to deal with the issues. Notably, South Korea had also tested a homegrown submarine-launched ballistic missile -- a technology the North has long sought to develop.

Japan, however, has not issued a statement.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma