North Korea said Friday it has tested a new type of cruise missile that could strike USA and South Korean warships "at will" if it is attacked, in an apparent reference to the projectiles detected by Seoul when they were launched a day earlier.
The South said they were fired from the town of Wonsan and flew about 200 kilometers (125 miles) and landed in waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
The North's missile tests present a hard challenge to new South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a liberal elected last month who has expressed a desire to reach out to Pyongyang.
"The great success of test-firing an intercontinental ballistic missile, which we are sure to achieve, will mark a historic watershed moment in the failure of the USA hostile policy against us", North Korean state media claimed, asserting that a nuclear-armed long-range missile would guarantee a viable nuclear deterrence strategy.
The North did not disclose how many missiles it launched, but according to South Korea's national security director Chung Eui-yong on Friday, the North fired four short-range missiles.
North Korea unveiled a number of new weapons at a massive military parade on April 15 to mark the anniversary of the birth of the state's founding leader, and has since tested some of them.
Drone incursions from the North have increased in recent years.
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South Korean observers said the missiles traveled about 125 miles before splashing down in waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, where the USA aircraft carriers USS Carl Vinson and USS Ronald Reagan participated in joint exercises with the South Korean Navy that ended earlier this week.
"I believe North Korea has the technology and only the stage left is to test it". They landed in waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, where US aircraft carriers USS Carl Vinson and USS Ronald Reagan participated in joint exercises with the South Korean navy that ended earlier this week. The missiles were tested on Thursday. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un during a combat drill of the service personnel of the special operation battalion of the Korean People's Army Unit 525.
A senior US government official also forecast that the North will likely be ready to test-fire an ICBM within the year.
"During the launching preparation process, such specifications were also examined and confirmed as the mobility and entry into combatant position of newly developed caterpillar self-propelled launching pad vehicle, rapid-firing preparation and reliability of operation of the launching and controlling systems", the report said.
The regime also tested a mid-range ballistic missile on May 29.
North Korea has completed two atomic tests and dozens of launches since the beginning of 2016.