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North Korea releases latest missile test results

Pyongyang claims two long-range missiles that it launched on Wednesday hit their targets

North Korea has claimed another victory in proving its nuclear warfare capability. Pyongyang said that two cruise missiles it successfully launched on Wednesday reached their targets 2,000 kilometers away.

The two missiles flew over the Yellow Sea, between the Korean Peninsula and China, and were in the air for nearly three hours before they "clearly hit" their unidentified target, according to a report by Pyongyang's state-run KCNA media outlet. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un oversaw the launches and expressed "great satisfaction" with the test results.

Kim "highly appreciated the high reaction capabilities of our nuclear combat forces, which proved again their full preparedness for actual war to bring the enemies under their control at a blow through the unconditional, mobile, precise and powerful counterstrike by any weapon system," KCNA said. He called the launches a "clear warning" to North Korea's enemies and a verification of the "absolute reliability and combat capacity of our state's war deterrent."

With a range of 2,000 kilometers, the cruise missiles fired on Wednesday could travel nearly four times the distance from Pyongyang to Busan, at South Korea's southeastern tip, and well beyond any target in Japan. Just last week, North Korea conducted its longest-range missile test on record, firing a projectile over Japan on a 4,600-kilometer flight. The country's Hwasong-17 ballistic missile reportedly has a range of at least 15,000 kilometers, bringing US targets within reach.

Kim said he aims to continue expanding the "operational sphere" of North Korea's nuclear forces to "resolutely deter any crucial military crisis and war crisis at any time and completely take the initiative in it."

Wednesday's launches marked the latest in a series of tests of Pyongyang's strategic weaponry that began on September 25. Kim said the tests were done to ensure the readiness of North Korea's nuclear forces to "wipe out" potential aggressors. One of those exercises simulated the loading of tactical warheads into a missile silo hidden beneath a reservoir.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol warned on Monday that the region faces a "grave security reality" amid Pyongyang's nuclear saber-rattling. North Korea rejected a proposal by Yoon in August to give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for economic aid from Seoul. On Monday, Kim ruled out peace talks with South Korea or the US, saying his enemies "have still been talking about dialogue and negotiations while posing military threats to us."