North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported that North Korea tested a new train-mounted ballistic missile delivery system for the first time on Wednesday, according to state media, claiming that at least one missile hit a target “in the waters 800 kilometers (500 miles) off the east coast.” State media’s report on the test Thursday comes after Japan revised its assessment the previous day to say that North Korea’s missiles landed in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The Korean People’s Army Strategic Rocket Force Railway Mobile Missile Regiment was conducted “without notice” to test “the combat preparedness of the new regiment” and the “practicability of the railway mobile missile system deployed for the first time for action. The railway mobile missile system is an effective counter striking means to deal a heavy blow at the threatening forces with dispersive firing across the country. The regiment was created at the Eighth Party Congress in January, and that there plans to “expand the regiment into a brigade” after Wednesday’s test.
The scheme is designed to make the country’s nuclear arsenal more mobile and thus more difficult to locate in wartime. Weapons are sitting ducks if they’re stuck in missile silos and the enemy knows where they are. Placing so many warheads on a single missile has several advantages. First it’s easier to maintain fewer missiles than more. Second, when it comes to nuclear combat, sending ten warheads at once hurtling towards the enemy makes it more difficult to shoot them all down. North Korea is worried about ballistic missile defense shield deployed in South Korea weakening its ability to target the South Korea.
The Railway Mobile Missile Regiment test was overseen by top military official Pak Jong Chon, reportedly without Kim Jong Un in attendance. Pak Jong Chon was one of his top two most trusted military officials when he promoted him to the rank of marshal of the Korean People’s Army along with Ri Pyong Chol last October, but both men lost this title and were demoted to alternate politburo membership following an unspecified “grave incident” that was revealed in June. Despite the demotion, Pak retained his position as chief of the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) and remained alongside Kim Jong Un at key events in July.