North Korea says it has tested train-launched ballistic missiles

North Korea has said it tested a train-launched ballistic missile, seen as a clear retaliation against new US sanctions.

State media reports came a day after South Korea’s military said it had detected the North fired two missiles into the sea in its third weapons launch this month.

The launch comes hours after Pyongyang’s foreign ministry issued a statement rebuking the US for imposing new sanctions on the North’s previous tests and taking stronger and more explicit action if Washington maintains its “confrontational stance”. warned.

North Korea has been ramping up testing of new missiles designed to bolster missile defenses in the region in recent months amid pandemic-related border closures and a halt in nuclear diplomacy with the US.

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Missile test from a railway in North Pyongan province (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service/AP)

Some experts say North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is going back on a test technique of pressuring the US and neighbors with missile launches and threats before offering talks to make concessions.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said Friday’s exercise was aimed at checking the alert posture of its army’s rail-borne missile regiment.

Shortly after being ordered to test the missile, the troops quickly approached the launch site and fired two “tactical guided” missiles, which hit a sea target with precision, the report said.

The North’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper published pictures of two separate missiles rising above railway trains covered in smoke.

Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea, said the North staged a launch that was not previously planned to demonstrate its opposition to US sanctions.

The missiles appear to be a solid-fuel short-range weapon, which the North has apparently modeled after Russia’s Iskander mobile ballistic system.

Tested for the first time in 2019, the missile is designed to maneuver and fly at low altitudes, potentially improving its chances of evading and defeating missile systems.

The North first launched the missiles in September as part of efforts to diversify its launch options, which now include different vehicles and may eventually include submarines depending on the country’s progress.

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Missile test by North Korean government (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service/AP)

Launching a missile from a train could increase mobility, but some experts say the simple rail network running through a relatively small area of ‚Äč‚ÄčNorth Korea would be quickly destroyed by enemies during the crisis.

The Biden administration on Wednesday imposed sanctions on five North Koreans over their role in obtaining equipment and technology for the North’s missile programs in response to previous tests earlier this month.

Pyongyang said the Treasury Department’s announcement on Tuesday after Mr Kim oversaw a successful test of a hypersonic missile he claimed would significantly increase the country’s nuclear “war deterrence”.

Tuesday’s test was North Korea’s second display of its alleged hypersonic missile in a week.

Experts say North Korea will need years and more successful and long-range tests before it can get a reliable hypersonic system.

A US-led diplomatic push aimed at persuading Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons program in 2019 after the Trump administration rejected the North’s demands for major sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.

Mr Kim has since pledged to further expand a nuclear arsenal, which he clearly sees as the strongest guarantee of its survival, given the country’s economy being hit by pandemic-related border closures and persistent US-led sanctions. Despite the major setback between

His government has so far rejected calls from the Biden administration to resume talks without any preconditions, saying the US must first abandon its “hostile policy”.