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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

Oct 13, 2021 - World

UN report: North Korea faces growing food crisis, economic hardship

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images

North Korea faces a growing food crisis that has left children and elderly people at risk of starvation, a UN investigator said in a report out Wednesday.

Driving the news: Prolonged and strict measures implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19 have worsened conditions in the isolated Asian nation and have lead to "severe economic hardship," per the report.

Facing existential threat from climate change, Pacific Islanders urge world to listen

Climate organizer Moñeka De Oro (left), Guam Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio and Micronesia Climate Change Alliance. Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Courtesy of MCCA and the University of Guam Center for Island Sustainability

Decades after Pacific Islanders first raised the alarm, the rest of the world is finally catching up: The climate crisis is here, and it's accelerating.

Why it matters: Pacific Islanders, whose nations face an existential threat from climate change, were a major force behind the Paris Agreement. Heading into November's UN climate summit, they are calling for greater urgency in meeting the goals of the accord, and more direct action from world leaders — especially President Biden.

California governor declares drought emergency for entire state

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speakinng to reporters in Los Angeles in September. Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) extended a drought emergency declaration to cover the entire state on Tuesday.

Why it matters: "California is experiencing its worst drought since the late 1800s, as measured by both lack of precipitation and high temperatures," per a statement from the governor's office. This past August was the driest and hottest one on record, "and the water year that ended last month was the second driest on record," the statement added.