The missiles fired by North Korea were a test of a new “railway-borne missile system” designed as a potential counter-strike to any forces that threaten the country, state news agency KCNA reports.
The missiles flew 800 kilometres before striking a target in the sea off North Korea’s east coast, KCNA said on Thursday.
On Wednesday, South Korean and Japanese authorities announced they had detected the launch of two ballistic missiles from North Korea, just days after it tested a cruise missile that analysts said could have nuclear capabilities.
The North Korean launches came the same day that South Korea tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), becoming the first country without nuclear weapons to develop such a system.
The two Koreas have been in an increasingly heated arms race, with both sides unveiling new, more capable missiles and other weapons.
The tests by nuclear-armed North Korea drew international condemnation and concern, however, with the US saying it violated UN Security Council resolutions and posed a threat to Pyongyang’s neighbours.
The North Korean test was conducted by a railway-borne missile regiment that had been organised earlier this year, the KCNA report said.
“The railway-borne missile system serves as an efficient counter-strike means capable of dealing a harsh multi-concurrent blow to the threat-posing forces,” said Pak Jong Chon, a North Korean Marshal and a member of the Presidium of the Politburo of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, who oversaw the test, according to KCNA.
Photos released by state media showed an olive-green missile rising on a column of smoke and flame from the roof of a train parked on tracks in a mountainous area.
South Korea had reported the missiles were fired from the central inland area of Yangdok.
“Rail mobile missiles are a relatively cheap and reliable option for countries seeking to improve the survivability of their nuclear forces,” Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, said on Twitter.
“Russia did it. The US considered it. It makes a ton of sense for North Korea.”