North Korea Claims it Fired Long-Range Cruise Missiles

    North Korea Claims it Fired Long-Range Cruise Missiles
    Last updated Feb 24, 2023
    Image credit: KCNA [via Al Jazeera]


    • North Korea claimed on Friday to have test-fired four long-range Hwasal-2 strategic cruise missiles off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula following simulated military exercises between the US and South Korea in Washington, DC.
    • According to its state-run Korean Central News Agency, the launches served to underscore Pyongyang's war readiness and "nuclear counterattack capability" against what it considers hostile forces.
    • As of Friday, however, there was no clear confirmation of the reported exercise from either Tokyo or Seoul. With a claimed range of 2,000 km (1,200 miles) and a flight duration of about 170 minutes, the allegedly tested missiles would put all of South Korea and Japan within striking distance.
    • The alleged missile test came after the US, Japan, and South Korea conducted their first trilateral ballistic missile defense exercise since October 2022 on Wednesday. Earlier, Pyongyang launched an intercontinental ballistic missile on Saturday and two short-range ballistic missiles on Monday.
    • Also on Wednesday, the US and South Korean militaries participated in a simulated exercise designed to address a potential nuclear strike by the North — a move that the Biden administration's 2022 Nuclear Posture Review says will lead to "the end of that regime."
    • While Washington also pledged to continue fielding military assets to deter a potential regional nuclear conflict, the US and South Korea are reportedly discussing the possible deployment of a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to South Korea, to participate in military drills set for next month.


    Establishment-critical narrative

    Despite the US and its allies blaming Pyongyang for increasing tensions, Washington cannot obscure the fact that it bears the main responsibility for declining diplomatic relations, especially as the Biden administration has switched back to a confrontational course following Donald Trump's efforts at de-escalation. Washington is fueling conflict to muscle closer ties with Japan and South Korea in order to expand its regional influence.

    Pro-establishment narrative

    North Korea's escalating missile tests and repeated threats not to refrain from using tactical nuclear weapons demonstrate the regime's unpredictable hostility, putting the peace and stability of the entire region at risk. Kim Jong Un understands only the language of strength, as the failed negotiations in the Trump era have proven. US extended deterrence is the only way to both protect South Korea and force Kim to the negotiating table.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 15% chance that North Korea and South Korea will be recognized as a single sovereign state by 2045, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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