Kim Jong-un Unseen at North Korea Missile Launch; Pentagon Condemns Testing

North Korea tested a long-range cruise missile over the weekend, sparking criticism from the US amid a long standoff over denuclearization.

North Korea's state-run news agency KCNA said the missile tests took place on Saturday. The agency said the missile test was a "success". The report added that missiles travelled 1,500 kilometers over the water.

Missile Tests Were Meant to "Contain Military Maneuvers of the Hostile Forces"

The missiles newly developed by the Academy of Defense Science traveled for about two hours and six minutes above the territorial land and waters of North Korea, according to KCNA.

"The efficiency and practicality of the weapon system operation was confirmed to be excellent," it said, adding that development has been pushed forward for the past two years, Kyodo News reported.

The state-run agency added that the missiles were a "strategic weapon of great significance" and "another deterrence means against hostile forces".

The North Korean authorities reportedly carried out detailed tests of missile parts, including flight tests, control and guidance tests, the news agency said.

Pictures in the Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed a missile exiting one of five tubes on a launch vehicle in a ball of flame, and a missile in horizontal flight.

Although several top North Korean leaders and scientists were in attendance for the launches, there was no mention of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un being present, according to ABC News.

North Korea
North Korea test-fired a new "long-range cruise missile" on Sept. 11 and 12, in an undisclosed location of the country Twitter

Pentagon Reacts

Pentagon condemned North Korea's latest missile test, calling it a 'threat' to the regime's neighboring countries.

"This activity highlights [North Korea's] continuing focus on developing its military program and the threats that poses to its neighbors and the international community," the US Indo-Pacific command said in a statement.

North Korea's Long Standoff with US Over Nuclear Deal

The North is under international sanctions for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, which it says it needs to defend against a US invasion, reports AFP. But Pyongyang is not banned from developing cruise missiles, which it has tested previously.

Japan's chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato said the government was "concerned" by the reports and would continue to work closely with the US and South Korea to monitor the situation, reported The Guardian.

As described, the missile "poses a considerable threat", Park Won-gon, professor of North Korean Studies at Ewha Womans University, told AFP.

"If the North has sufficiently miniaturized a nuclear warhead, it can be loaded onto a cruise missile as well," Park said.

"It's very likely that there will be more tests for the development of various weapons systems."

The launch was a response to joint South Korea-US military drills last month, he said, according to AFP.

The missile tests come just days after Kim Jong-Un's regime conducted a predawn military parade in Pyongyang to celebrate the country's National Day.