North Korea fires 4 cruise missiles off its east coast, South Korea says

  • North Korea fired four cruise missiles off its east coast on 22 Mar as its rivals South Korea and the United States held joint military exercises, the South Korean military said.
  • The military initially reported “multiple missiles” without elaborating; South Korean Defence Minister Lee Jong-sup told parliament on 23 Mar that there were four.
  • Lee added that North Korea appears to have made “substantial progress” in miniaturising nuclear warheads to fit tactical guided weapons systems.
  • “I don’t see that they are ready yet to mount on what North Korea has recently called tactical guided weapons, but we’re looking into the possibilities with the U.S.,” he said.
  • When asked whether North Korea’s nuclear weapons have come close to deployment, Lee said they have reached “substantial levels.”
  • South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said 22 Mar’s launches could have involved strategic cruise missiles with a potential nuclear capability.
  • A U.S. State Department spokesperson called on North Korea “to refrain from any further destabilising acts” and reiterated that the U.S. commitment to the defence of South Korea and Japan remained “ironclad”.

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