North Korea fires two railway-borne missiles in latest launch

North Korean state media have said they have launched two rail-launched missiles, following two other ballistic missiles also launched this year

North Korea has fired two rail-launched missiles (

Image: KCNA VIA KNS/AFP via Getty Image)

North Korea tested two rail-launched missiles in its launch drills, state media KCNA said, fueling tensions with the US pushing for fresh sanctions on the secretive state over its recent spate of weapons tests.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said two short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) traveled about 267 miles to a maximum altitude of 22 miles after being fired eastward on North Korea’s northwest coast on Friday.

The official KCNA news agency did not specify the missiles’ range or trajectory, but said a target practice was held in North Pyongan province to “check and assess the competence in the rail-based regiment’s action procedures.”

The country tested the rail-based system for the first time last September and said it was designed as a potential counter-strike against threatening forces.

Since the New Year, North Korea has also launched two more ballistic missiles in an unusually rapid succession of weapons tests. The previous two launches were so-called “hyposonic missiles” that can reach high speeds and maneuver in the air.

The country first tested the rail-based system last September
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Image:

KCNA VIA KNS / AFP via Getty Image)

Hours before the latest test exercise, North Korea suggested the United States pursue new sanctions in response to its recent missile launches, calling it a “provocation” and warning of a strong response.

US President Joe Biden’s administration on Wednesday imposed its first sanctions on Pyongyang and called on the UN Security Council to blacklist several North Korean people and entities.

North Korea has defended the missile tests as its sovereign right to self-defense and accused the US of deliberately escalating the situation with new sanctions.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did not attend the exercise.

North Korea has defended the missile tests as its sovereign right to self-defense
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Image:

Korea Summit Press Pool/AFP via)

KCNA said the military leadership ordered the test “at short notice” and the system accurately hit the target set on the east coast with “two tactical guided missiles.”

The system “demonstrated high maneuverability and hit rate,” KCNA said, adding that its success has prompted discussions to “establish a suitable rail-based missile operational system across the country.”

North Korea has steadily upgraded its weapons systems and upped the ante on stalled talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear and ballistic missile arsenals in exchange for the lifting of US sanctions.

South Korean Chung Eui-yong and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the recent launch during their phone call on Saturday and are coordinating responses to the North’s recent missile tests, the State Department said.

Both sides stressed the importance of maintaining a firm joint stand-by posture and urged Pyongyang to return to a negotiating table, Seoul’s foreign ministry said.

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