In its third weapons launch this month, North Korea confirmed Saturday that it test-fired train-launched ballistic missiles in apparent retaliation for new sanctions imposed by the Biden administration over its continued test launches.
As reported by The Guardian, citing North Korea’s official news agency, KCNA, the drill was to “verify and judge the competence in action procedures of the railway regiment.”
The North Korean state media report came a day after South Korea’s military said Friday it detected the launch of two missiles into the sea by its neighboring country.
North Korea issued a statement hours before the launches, criticizing the Biden administration for imposing new sanctions over its missile tests. It warned that its actions would become harsher and more explicit if the U.S. persisted in its confrontational stance.
According to the Associated Press, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missiles were fired 11 minutes apart from an area in North Pyongan province, where the North Koreans operate key missile bases,
South Korea’s military also said the latest projectiles flew about 430 km, at an altitude of 36 km and a maximum speed of 7,350 kilometers per hour, six times the speed of sound.
On Wednesday, the Biden administration imposed sanctions on five North Koreans for their role in obtaining equipment and technology for their country’s missile programs, a response to North Korea’s earlier tests this month.
The Treasury Department made the announcement just hours after North Korea said Kim oversaw a successful test of a hypersonic missile on Tuesday that it said would significantly enhance the country’s nuclear “war deterrent.”
A diplomatic campaign to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program failed after Kim’s second summit with Trump in 2019. The U.S. rejected Pyongyang’s demands for significant sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.
The Pyongyang regime has so far rejected the Biden administration’s call to resume dialogue, saying the U.S. must first abandon its “hostile policy.” Instead, it has vowed to expand its nuclear arsenal further, which it sees as its greatest guarantee of survival.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said they were engaged with the U.N. and key partners, including South Korea and Japan, in responding to North Korea’s “deeply destabilizing” threats.
“I think some of this is North Korea trying to get attention. It’s done that in the past. It’ll probably continue to do that,” Blinken said. “But we are very focused with allies and partners in making sure that they and we are properly defended and that there are repercussions, consequences for these actions by North Korea.”