North Korea tested a rail missile during its firing exercises on Friday, state media KCNA reported on Saturday, as the United States pushes for new sanctions against the isolated state following its recent series weapons testing.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said two short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) traveled about 267 miles at a maximum altitude of 22 miles after being launched eastward at the north-east coast. western North Korea.
The official KCNA news agency did not specify the range or trajectory of the missiles, but said a firing exercise had been held in North Pyongan province to “check and judge mastery of firing procedures. action of the railway regiment”.
The country first tested the rail system last September, saying it was designed as a potential counterattack against any threatening force.
Since the New Year, North Korea has launched three ballistic missiles in an unusually rapid sequence of weapons testing. The previous two launches involved what state media called “hypersonic missiles” capable of reaching high speeds and maneuvering after launch.
Hours before the latest test exercise, North Korea criticized the United States for applying new sanctions in response to its recent missile launches, calling them a “provocation” and warning of a strong reaction.
President Joe Biden’s administration imposed its first sanctions on Pyongyang on Wednesday and called on the UN Security Council to blacklist several North Korean individuals and entities.
North Korea has defended the missile tests as its sovereign right to self-defense and accused the United States of intentionally aggravating the situation with new sanctions.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did not attend the exercise. KCNA said the military leadership ordered the test “at short notice” and that the system precisely hit the target set on the east coast with “two tactical guided missiles”.
The system “demonstrated high maneuverability and success rate”, KCNA said, adding that its success had led to talks to “establish a suitable railway missile operating system across the country”.
North Korea is steadily developing its weapons systems, upping the ante for stalled talks to dismantle its nuclear and ballistic missile arsenals in exchange for US sanctions relief.
South Korea’s Chung Eui-yong and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the latest launch during their phone call on Saturday and coordinated responses to the North’s recent missile tests, the State Department said.
Both sides stressed the importance of maintaining a firm and combined preparedness stance and urged Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table, the Seoul foreign ministry said.