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Photos: DPRK Says Friday Launches Were Firing Drill by Railway-Borne Missile Regiment

© Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)A DPRK railway-borne ballistic missile is launched in a January 14, 2022, test in western North Korea
A DPRK railway-borne ballistic missile is launched in a January 14, 2022, test in western North Korea - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.01.2022
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A missile launch detected on Friday morning by the South Korean military was a firing drill by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) railway-borne missile regiment, state media said on Saturday.
According to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the regiment in North Pyongan Province, North Korea's westernmost province on the Chinese border, was given a firepower mission at short notice in order to test their alert posture, as well as give them practice. The drill involved firing two tactical guided missiles into the Sea of Japan, called the East Sea in Korea.

"The combat posture of the railway-borne missile regiment of North Pyongan Province which demonstrated high maneuverability and rate of hits in the drill was highly appreciated in the review", KCNA said, adding that "the issues were discussed to set up proper railway-borne missile operating system across the country and to find out ways for further completing our style fighting methods with the railway-borne missiles".

The DPRK's railway-borne missile system, which carries ballistic missile TELs concealed as boxcars, was unveiled last September. The small socialist state didn't invent the concept, though: the Soviet Union produced several modified refrigerator cars capable of launching RT-23 Molodets intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMS) in just a few minutes' time, and the United States also explored putting its Peacekeeper ICBMs on a "special rail garrison" before the end of the Cold War.
More recently, Russia has introduced a successor to the Molodets: the RS-27 Barguzin, which debuted in recent years.
© Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)A DPRK railway-borne ballistic missile is launched in a January 14, 2022, test in western North Korea
A DPRK railway-borne ballistic missile is launched in a January 14, 2022, test in western North Korea - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.01.2022
A DPRK railway-borne ballistic missile is launched in a January 14, 2022, test in western North Korea
The intent in all cases is the same: to protect the missiles from attack by constantly changing their location. For a country like the DPRK, which is in constant fear of a preemptive strike by South Korea or the United States, such capability likely helps them sleep more soundly at night.
Friday's launch was the third by the DPRK in two weeks' time; the first two were tests of Hwasong-8 hypersonic glide vehicles, which are boosted by a rocket engine before detaching to glide unpredictably toward their targets at Mach 5-plus speed.
The US claimed the tests were provocative and in violation of United Nations resolutions, claiming that resolutions barring long-range ballistic missiles also covered hypersonic missiles. In response, the US slapped sanctions on five Korean figures, four of whom work in China and one in Russia, who the US Treasury claims helped Pyongyang "illegally procure goods for weapons".
A spokesperson from the DPRK's Foreign Ministry on Friday slammed Washington's "gangster-like logic", saying that bolstering its defensive capability "is a legitimate right of a sovereign state".

"The DPRK's recent development of [a] new-type weapon was just part of its efforts for modernising its national defence capability. It did not target any specific country or force and it did not do any harm to the security of neighbouring countries", the spokesperson said, referring to the hypersonic missile.

"Nevertheless, the US is intentionally escalating the situation even with the activation of independent sanctions, not content with referring the DPRK's just activity to the UN Security Council", they added. "The US accusation of the DPRK's legitimate exercise of the right to self-defence is an evident provocation and a gangster-like logic".
© Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)A DPRK railway-borne ballistic missile is launched in a January 14, 2022, test in western North Korea
A DPRK railway-borne ballistic missile is launched in a January 14, 2022, test in western North Korea - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.01.2022
A DPRK railway-borne ballistic missile is launched in a January 14, 2022, test in western North Korea
The US has demanded the DPRK give up its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, but Pyongyang says it needs them to guarantee its security in the absence of a permanent peace treaty with Seoul and Washington. The US intervened in a civil war in Korea in 1950, siding with the capitalist-controlled South against the socialist North, which was supported by China and the Soviet Union. A ceasefire ended the shooting in 1953 and established a demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, but a permanent peace treaty has never been reached.
Pyongyang said in negotiations with the US in 2018 and 2019 that it would take irreversible steps to end its nuclear weapons programme if the US agreed to remove some of its strangling economic sanctions, but Washington has remained adamant that sanctions will remain in place until verifiable denuclearisation is complete.
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