(2nd LD) N. Korea says it conducted 'strategic cruise missile' drills this week
(ATTN: UPDATES with S. Korean military's response, other details in last 4 paras; ADDS photo)
By Chae Yun-hwan
SEOUL, Feb. 24 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has conducted "strategic cruise missile" launching drills, with the "war posture" of the country's nuclear combat forces clearly demonstrated, its state media said Friday, as South Korea and the United States held joint military exercises this week.
A subunit of the North's strategic cruise missile unit fired four "Hwasal-2 strategic cruise missiles" from an area of the northeastern city of Kim Chaek in North Hamgyong Province toward the East Sea at dawn Thursday, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
"The four strategic cruise missiles precisely hit the preset target on the East Sea of Korea after traveling the 2,000 kilometer-long elliptical and eight-shaped flight orbits for 10,208 seconds to 10,224 seconds," the KCNA said in an English-language report. "The drill reconfirmed the reliability of the weapon system and examined the rapid response posture of strategic cruise missile units that constitute one of major forces of the DPRK nuclear deterrent.
"The drill clearly demonstrated once again the war posture of the DPRK nuclear combat force bolstering up in every way its deadly nuclear counterattack capability against the hostile forces," it added.
DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
South Korea's military said it was analyzing various possibilities related to the North's claim of the launches.
"South Korean and U.S. reconnaissance and surveillance assets were closely monitoring the relevant area at the time (of the drills) the North claims," the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. "An analysis is underway on various possibilities, including whether the North's claim is true or not."
Meanwhile, the allies held tabletop drills against North Korea's nuclear threats at the Pentagon on Wednesday (local time).
They also held a trilateral missile defense exercise, joined by Japan, in the international waters of the East Sea earlier this week in response to the North's recent firing of ballistic missiles, including a long-range one.
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