Friday’s test exercise was used to “check and assess the capability” of the “train missile regiment of North Phyongan Province,” according to the Korean Central News Agency.
It is not the first time that North Korea has launched missiles from a train car. It conducted a similar test last September.
The test launches were supervised by commanders of the Korean People’s Army and senior officials from the Academy of Defense Science, according to KCNA.
“The regiment received a short-term firepower mission from the General Staff on Friday morning before moving quickly to the firing range, hitting the precise target in the Baltic Sea of Korea (aka the Sea of Japan) with two tactical guided missiles,” it said. KCNA.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said North Korea fired two projectiles, believed to be short-range missiles, from the Uiju area of North Pyongan province in waters off the eastern coast of the Korean peninsula.
The military suspects the projectiles had a flight distance of about 430 kilometers and an altitude of about 36 kilometers, JCS said in a statement, adding that South Korean and US intelligence agencies are analyzing further details.
On Friday, a spokesman for the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs admonished the US for its stance on North Korea’s weapons development, adding: “If the US takes such a confrontational stance, the DPRK will be forced to become more forceful and to respond more confidently.”
In a statement from KCNA, the spokesman defended the country’s right to bolster its weapons, saying the “recent development of a new type of weapon was only part of its efforts to modernize its national defense capability.”
Leif-Eric Easley, an associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, said after Friday’s test that Pyongyang “seems to signal that it will not be ignored and will respond with pressure to pressure.”
“North Korea is trying to set a trap for the Biden administration,” Easley said. “It has deployed missiles it still wants to test and is responding to US pressure with additional provocations in an effort to force concessions.”
Pyongyang is prohibited from testing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons under international law, but it has developed the weapons in violation of the law.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken showed no signs of a compromise from Washington on Friday.
After speaking on the phone with South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong, Blinken released a statement condemning North Korea’s testing and reiterating Washington’s “cast-iron” commitment to the defense of South Korea.