North Korea’s state-run television aired video footage on Thursday of the communist country’s first successful test-firing of missiles that were launched from a train.
The missiles were tested at dawn on Sept. 15 and accurately struck a targeted area 497 miles (800 kilometers) in the sea off North Korea’s east coast, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
The launch was part of a firing drill aimed at “confirming the practicality of the railway mobile missile system,” the agency reported. The railway-borne missile was transported along rail tracks in the country’s mountainous central region.
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, but some experts say North Korea’s simple rail networks running through its relatively small territory would be quickly destroyed by enemies during a crisis.
State media showed what appeared to be two different missiles streaking up from rail-car launchers engulfed in orange flames along tracks surrounded by dense forest.
The latest firing drills come as senior envoys from Japan, the United States, and South Korea met in Tokyo earlier this week to discuss North Korea’s missile and nuclear development a day after Pyongyang tested a new long-range cruise missile.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said during a press briefing on Wednesday that North Korea’s actions are in violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions, which barred the communist country from testing ballistic missiles.
“These activities highlight the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s illicit weapons program,” Kirby said, referring to the country by the initials of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
The South Korean and Japanese militaries said earlier that North Korea’s two short-range ballistic missiles landed inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone but outside its territorial waters. The last time a North Korean missile landed inside that zone was in October 2019.
Over the weekend, North Korea also successfully test-fired a new missile capable of hitting targets 932 miles (1,500 kilometers) away, with analysts spreading concerns that the missile could be the country’s first such weapon with nuclear capabilities.
North Korea has ignored past offers from the Biden administration to resume negotiations to abandon its nuclear program. The United States said following the latest tests it has no hostile intent and called for North Korea to return to talks.
“What we seek to do is to reduce the threat to the United States, to our allies in the region … and we think we can do that through diplomacy,” U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters in Washington.
President Donald Trump, who met with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un three times during his four years in office, was the first U.S. president to set foot on North Korean soil, but the authoritarian leader ignored demands to give up its nuclear and missile programs in exchange for sanctions relief.
Experts say North Korea is building up its weapons systems to apply pressure on the United States in the hopes of winning relief from economic sanctions aimed at forcing the country to abandon its nuclear arsenal.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.