The South Korean military says North Korea launched several cruise missiles toward the Yellow Sea early on Saturday.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff announced that the missiles were fired to the west of the Korean Peninsula from around 4:00 a.m. local time, adding that it is analyzing the situation in close cooperation with the US military.
Pyongyang pledged to develop medium- and long-range cruise missiles in its five-year national defense program, announced in 2021. Earlier this year, it said on several occasions it had carried out firing exercises of strategic cruise missiles that were "tipped with a test warhead simulating a nuclear warhead."
South Korea's Yonhap News Agency said the missiles fired on Saturday may have involved a type of strategic cruise missile named "Hwasal." Yonhap suggested that Pyongyang could be intending to demonstrate its ability to launch nuclear attacks against targets in South Korea and US military bases in Japan.
On August 27, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un denounced Japan, the United States and South Korea for beefing up their defense cooperation when he visited a navy command. He vowed to equip his navy with tactical nuclear weapons.