North Korea conducts 'nuclear counterattack' missile exercise

North Korea fired four cruise missiles in a "nuclear counterattack" demonstration, state media reported Friday. Photo by KCNA/UPI
North Korea fired four cruise missiles in a "nuclear counterattack" demonstration, state media reported Friday. Photo by KCNA/UPI

SEOUL, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- North Korea test-fired four strategic cruise missiles in a demonstration of its "lethal nuclear counterattack capability," state media reported Friday.

The firing drill was held early Thursday morning from the area of Kimchaek City on the country's east coast, state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.


The cruise missiles flew for close to three hours in elliptical and figure-eight patterns covering 1,240 miles before hitting preset targets in the sea between Korea and Japan, the KCNA report said.

North Korea's "nuclear combat force, which is strengthening its lethal nuclear counterattack capability against the hostile forces in every way, clearly demonstrated once again the state of war," KCNA added.

The missile test, which was not reported by South Korea or the United States, comes on the heels of ballistic missile launches by the North earlier in the week.

On Saturday, North Korea fired a Hwasong-15 ICBM, which Japanese officials said landed in the waters of its exclusive economic zone and had the capacity to reach the entire United States.

Pyongyang then fired two short-range ballistic missiles on Monday, as the powerful sister of leader Kim Jong Un warned of turning the Pacific into a "firing range."


The United States led a call for the U.N. Security Council to take action against North Korea over the launches earlier this week, but the effort was impeded by Russia and China.

In a separate release on Friday, North Korea's Foreign Ministry slammed the emergency Security Council meeting.

"We are very displeased and strongly protest and condemn the fact that a sovereign state's lawful right to self-defense is brought up to the UN Security Council," Kwon Jeong Geun, the ministry's director-general for U.S. affairs, said in a statement carried by KCNA.

Kwon called for Washington and Seoul to suspend joint military exercises and abandon the deployment of U.S. strategic assets to the Korean Peninsula, saying the moves "could be regarded as a declaration of war against [North Korea]."

"If the U.N. Security Council is dragged by the U.S. and puts our right to self-defense on the table again, corresponding strong countermeasures will follow," he said.

On Wednesday, the United States and South Korea held a tabletop exercise designed to respond to North Korean nuclear attacks. The allies will conduct their springtime Freedom Shield joint drill next month.

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