In the midst of growing threats with the United States, North Korea is testing a railway-borne missile
North Korea used a railway-borne missile during its firing drills on Friday, according to the KCNA on Saturday. Despite a US push for fresh penalties against the country following its recent series of weapons tests, the country is under increasing pressure.
After being launched eastward on the northwest coast of North Korea, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said they had reached an altitude of 430 km.
The official KCNA news agency did not specify the missiles' range, or trajectory, but it said that a firing drill would be held in North Pyongan Province to "check and judge the proficiency in the action procedures of the railway-borne regiment."
Last September, a company said it was intended as a potential counter-strike to any threatening forces.
Three ballistic missiles have been launched since New Year's Eve in a bizarrely slow sequence of weapons tests. The previous two launches involved what state media called "hypersonic missiles," capable of high speeds and manoeuvring after launch.
Hours before the latest test drill, North Korea criticised the United States for taking new measures as a result of its recent missile launches, calling it a "provocation" and a warning.
President Joe Biden's administration against Pyongyang was on Wednesday, and the United Nations Security Council called on the country to blacklist several North Korean individuals and entities.
North Korea has defended the missile tests as its sovereign right to self-defence, adamant the United States of intentionally aggravating the situation with new sanctions.
Kim Jong Un did not participate in the drill, according to the KCNA. The military had ordered the test "at short notice," and the system precisely touched the target on the east coast with "two tactical guided missiles."
The system "demonstrated high manoeuvrability and speed of hits," according to KCNA.
North Korea's military systems have been steadily developed, raising the risk of stalled discussions aimed at dismantling its nuclear and ballistic missile arsenals in exchange for US sanctions relief.
Chung Eui-yong, the South Korean Korean community leader, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, both on Saturday, have condemned the latest launch as a result of their phone call and coordinated responses to the North's recent missile tests, according to the State Department.
Seoul's foreign ministry said both sides are recognizing the importance of maintaining a strong combined readiness posture.
'AT SHORT NOTICE,'
Cheong Seong-chang, head of North Korean research at South Korea's Sejong Institute, said the test might be an "instant demonstration of force," to protest US sanctions policies, adding that it was not planned in advance and unusually took place in the afternoon.
"It's a message that Washington would adopt an eye to eye approach if elected," Cheong said.
As it was launched from the top of an olive-green train in a mountainous area, the KCNA released photos showing a missile trailing a column of smoke and flame, before arrowing down on a small island, sending up a cloud of debris and dust.
Despite North Korea's limited and sometimes unreliable rail network, rail mobile missiles are a relatively inexpensive and efficient method to improve the survivability of nuclear forces, making it difficult for enemies to discern and destroy them before being fired, according to analysts.
Kim Dong-yup, a former South Korea Navy officer who teaches at Seoul's Kyungnam University, said North Korea is firing KN-23 SRBMs, which were also test fired in September.
According to experts, the Iskander-M SRBM was first tested in May 2019 and is intended to evade missile defenses and conduct a precision strike.