North Korea tests new cruise missiles that put Japan in striking distance

Japan Times -- Sep 14
North Korea has developed yet another weapon that can put most of Japan within striking distance, this one potentially capable of evading missile defenses and delivering a nuclear bomb to a large chunk of the archipelago.

The North announced Monday that it had test-fired “new-type, long-range” cruise missiles over the weekend, according to state-run media. The launches were the country’s first missile tests since March, when it fired off two short-range ballistic missiles.

The country’s official Korean Central News Agency said the new missile, which it called “a strategic weapon of great significance,” had traveled for nearly two hours over North Korean land and air, ultimately hitting targets 1,500 kilometers away.

The new weapon is also likely to play into the ongoing debate over Japan acquiring the capability to strike enemy bases. The issue has already been taken up by candidates seeking to replace outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s leadership election, which is scheduled for Sept. 29.

The new missiles are believed to be nuclear-capable — the use of “strategic” to describe weapons is a common euphemism for being able to carry such warheads — though some experts said more analysis is needed.