North Korea has claimed the missiles it launched Thursday were a “new-type tactical guided projectile”, in its first statement since the test.
It was the country’s first ballistic launch in almost a year and the first since Joe Biden became US President.
Biden has said the US will “respond accordingly”. The US, Japan and South Korea have condemned the tests.
Under UN Security Council resolutions, Pyongyang is banned from testing ballistic missiles.
North Korea’s Friday statement says the two weapons struck a test target 600km (373 miles) off North Korea’s east coast, disputing Japanese assessments that they flew just over 400km.
“The development of this weapon system is of great significance in bolstering up the military power of the country and deterring all sorts of military threats,” Ri Pyong Chol, the senior leader who oversaw the test, said according to the North Korean release. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was not present.
According to Pyongyang, the new missile is able to carry a payload of 2.5 tons which would make it capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
South Korea’s spy agency said it believed North Korea had timed the missile launch ahead of President Biden’s press conference. It also claimed that Pyongyang was protesting against the extradition of its citizen, Mun Chol Myong from Malaysia to the US, and the recent UN Human Rights Council resolution against North Korea.
Biden told reporters that the launch was a violation of UN resolutions and that the US was consulting with partners and allies.
“There will be responses – if they choose to escalate, we will respond accordingly,” he said.
“But I’m also prepared for some form of diplomacy, but it has to be conditioned upon the end result of denuclearisation.”
It remains unclear what exact type of missile the North Koreans have launched. State media outlet KCNA said it had an “improved version of a solid fuel engine” and was capable of “low altitude gliding leap type flight mode”.
But the test highlights the progress the country’s weapons programme has seen since denuclearisation talks with the US stalled under former President Donald Trump.
Analysts have suggested the missiles were the same as the ones unveiled at a military parade in Pyongyang last October.