North Korea
North KoreaiStock

North Korea has test-fired four strategic cruise missiles during a drill designed to demonstrate its ability to conduct a nuclear counterattack against hostile forces, its state media said on Friday (local time).

The exercise on Thursday involved an apparently operational strategic cruise missile unit of the Korean People's Army, which fired the four "Hwasal-2" missiles in the area of Kim Chaek City, North Hamgyong Province, towards the sea off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula, state news agency KCNA said, as quoted by Reuters.

Other units conducted firepower training at hardened sites without live firing, it added.

The four strategic cruise missiles hit a preset target after traveling the "2000km-long elliptical and eight-shaped flight orbits for 10,208 seconds to 10,224 seconds," the English-language report said.

The drill demonstrated "the war posture of the DPRK nuclear combat force bolstering up in every way its deadly nuclear counterattack capability against the hostile forces," said KCNA.

The test is the latest in a series of tests that Pyongyang has conducted in recent days. Late last week, North Korea tested a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in a “surprise launching drill” under the written orders of leader Kim Jong Un.

Two days later, Pyongyang fired three ballistic missiles off its east coast.

North Korea last month began 2023 by firing a short-range ballistic missile toward its eastern waters. Kim later ordered the development of new intercontinental ballistic missiles and massive production of tactical nuclear weapons to counter threats from the United States and South Korea.

The North has upped the volume of its ballistic missile tests in recent months. The country tested dozens of ballistic weapons in 2022, including its first intercontinental ballistic missiles since 2017.

Kim said last November that his country's ultimate goal is to possess the world's most powerful nuclear force.