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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the capital Pyongyang in 2020. Photo: API/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

North Korean officials claim to have successfully test-fired new long-range cruise missiles over the weekend.

Why it matters: The new claims made via the state-run KCNA news agency are that it now has "a strategic weapon of great significance" that traveled some 930 miles to hit targets and then land in the sea on Saturday and Sunday.

  • Ankit Panda, a senior fellow at the U.S.-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Reuters this would be "the first cruise missile in North Korea to be explicitly designated a 'strategic' role" and that such a reference was "a common euphemism for nuclear-capable system."
  • The reported launch highlights Pyongyang's "continuing focus on developing its military program and the threats that poses to its neighbors and the international community," per a statement from the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

The big picture: Negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang on the denuclearization of North Korea have stalled since a second summit between then-President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended without a deal in 2019.

  • The United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency said last month that North Korea appeared to have resumed operations at a key nuclear reactor that's believed to produce fuel for nuclear weapons.
  • The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said that it's monitoring the situation following the launch reports and "consulting closely with our allies."
  • South Korea's military said it's analyzing the launches in cooperation with the U.S.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Sep 17, 2021 - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."

Biden blindsides Europe with new AUKUS alliance on China

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Biden is constructing and deepening new alliances to strengthen the U.S. position in its showdown with China, but he risks alienating longstanding allies in the process.

Why it matters: Biden heralded a new agreement to help Australia acquire nuclear submarines as part of a trilateral security pact with the U.K. and the U.S. as an "historic step" to update U.S. alliances to face new challenges. The message from French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, was quite different.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
41 mins ago - Science

All-civilian Inspiration4 is back on Earth after flight to space

A side-by-side of the Inspiration4 crew and a shot of their capsule on the way back to Earth. Photo: SpaceX

The all-civilian Inspiration4 crew is back on Earth after their three-day mission in orbit.

The big picture: The launch and landing of this fully amateur, private space crew marks a changing of the guard from spaceflight being a largely government-led venture to being under the purview of private companies.