North Korea said Thursday it successfully launched ballistic missiles from a train for the first time. This comes a day after North Korea test fired two ballistic missiles into the sea on Wednesday.â
According to Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the missiles were launched during a drill of a "railway-borne missile regiment". This transported the weapons system along rail tracks in the country's mountainous central region and accurately struck a sea target 800km away.
The state media showed what appeared to be two different missiles streaking up from rail-car launchers engulfed in orange flames along tracks, which were surrounded by dense forest, reported The Associated Press.
Rail-Based Ballistic System Can Benefit in Adverse Conditions
"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 member of the Presidium of the Politburo of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, who oversaw the test, KCNA reported.
"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," he added.
North Korea Bolstering its Defenses
The rail system could possibly set the stage for developing one capable of launching a larger, nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile, Ankit Panda, a senior fellow at the US-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Reuters.
According to multiple media reports, a rail-based ballistic system reflects North Korea's efforts to diversify its launch options, which now include various vehicles and ground launch pads and may eventually include submarines.
Firing a missile from a train could add mobility. However, as per few experts, North Korea's simple rail networks running through its relatively small territory would be quickly destroyed by enemies during a crisis.
South Korean and US Militaries Examining North's Launches
It comes after Seoul and Pyongyang fired missiles hours apart from each other. The launches underscored a return of the tensions between the rivals amid a prolonged stalemate in US-led talks aimed at stripping North Korea of its nuclear weapons program.
Col Kim Jun-rak, a spokesman for South Korea's joint chiefs of staff, was quoted by the Guardian as saying, "Our military assesses that North Korea is continuously developing various mobile launch equipment".
He further added that the South Korean and US militaries were continuing to examine the North's launches.