Kim Jong Un

North Korea confirmed that it conducted tests of an upgraded long-range cruise missile and a warhead of a tactical guided missile this week, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing state media KCNA.

An update to a long-range cruise missile system was tested on Tuesday, and another test was held to confirm the power of a conventional warhead for a surface-to-surface tactical guided missile on Thursday, KCNA said.

Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited a munitions factory producing a "major weapon system". The North Korean news agency said he lauded the factory for achieving progress in "producing major weapons" and holding a "very important position and duty" in modernizing the country's armed forces and realizing its national defense development strategy.

The reports came a day after South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the apparent launch of two short-range ballistic missiles, in what was North Korea’s sixth missile test in recent weeks.

Last week, North Korea warned it would bolster its defenses against the United States and consider restarting "all temporally-suspended activities," an apparent reference to a self-imposed moratorium on testing its nuclear bombs and long-range missiles.

North Korea regularly launches ballistic missiles and had a series of such tests in late 2021, the most recent of which was in October when it test-fired a new ballistic missile from a submarine.

Pyongyang restarted its missile tests after denuclearization talks with the United States came to a halt.

Former US President Donald Trump tried to reach an agreement with North Korea while in office. Kim and Trump met in Hanoi in 2019 for a summit that left nuclear talks at a standstill.

The pair had met three times since June 2018 but made little progress towards denuclearization.

The Biden administration reached out to North Korea shortly after taking office, but the country did not respond to those overtures.

In Biden’s first policy speech to Congress, he said nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran posed threats that would be addressed through “diplomacy and stern deterrence”.

Responding to that speech, North Korea dismissed the idea of talks with Washington, saying Biden’s speech was “intolerable” and “a big blunder."