North Korea completed the first test of its “railway-borne missile system” designed to counter any potential attacks, state media reports. The latest show of aggression from Kim Jong-un came after Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a new defence pact.
In a joint statement, the three leaders stressed the trilateral defence partnership would help to bring stability and security to the Indo-Pacific region amid the growing influence of China.
The military drill in North Korea was carried out by the Railway Mobile Missile Regiment.
The missiles flew 800km (497 miles) before successfully striking a target in the sea off North Korea’s east coast, Comrade Park Jeong-cheon said.
The Korean Central News Agency said: “As part of the establishment of a new national defence strategy.
“The 8th Congress of the Party was held to enhance the simultaneous and concentrated strike capability against the threat forces in a necessary military operation situation, and to strongly improve the response capability to more actively respond to various threats.”
It added: “The censorship firing training was conducted with the purpose of confirming the practicality of the railway mobile missile system introduced for the first time into combat.”
Images released by Korean state media show the missile being launched from the roof of a train in a discreet mountainous region, with huge flames and smoke billowing from the tracks.
South Korea reported the weapon was fired from the central inland area of Yangdok.
Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, explained this is not the first time weapons have been launched from the railways.
He tweeted: “Rail mobile missiles are a relatively cheap and reliable option for countries seeking to improve the survivability of their nuclear forces.
“Russia did it. The US considered it. It makes a ton of sense for North Korea.”
Mr Mount and other experts warn the latest launchpad will make it more
difficult for foreign forces to keep track of North Korea’s activities.
Meanwhile, the first initiative under the alliance of the UK, US and Australia will see the countries work together to secure nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy – a move that will increase Western security capabilities in the Pacific.
The Prime Minister said the alliance, would work “hand-in-glove to preserve security and stability in the Indo-Pacific”.
Mr Johnson added: “We are opening a new chapter in our friendship.
“Perhaps most significantly, the UK, Australia and the US will be joined even more closely together, reflecting the measure of trust between us, the depth of our friendship, and the enduring strength of our shared values of freedom and democracy.
“Now the UK will embark on this project alongside our allies, making the world safer and generating jobs across the United Kingdom.”
Speaking from Australia, Mr Morrison said the world was “becoming more complex, particularly in our region, the Indo-Pacific”, and said the future of the geopolitical area “will impact all our futures”.
The US President added the “future of each of our nations, and indeed the world, depends on a free and open Indo-Pacific enduring and flourishing in the decades ahead”.