Pyongyang test went nowhereNorth Korea test-fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile early Friday from its east coast, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said, but the test was apparently a failure.
This was the first test fire of a Musudan missile, with a range of around 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles), which could potentially hit South Korea, Japan and as far as Guam, from a transporter erector launcher, a missile-launching vehicle.
An official at the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea attempted a missile launch from the East Sea area around 5:30 a.m. The official added that assessments by South Korea and the United States have concluded the launch failed, but declined to elaborate on the exact cause of the failure.
South Korea and the U.S. military recently spotted North Korea’s deployment of at least one intermediate-range ballistic missile near the eastern port city of Wonsan. This was seen as a celebration of the “Day of the Sun,” the 104th birthday of the late founder Kim Il Sung on April 15, and an attempt to raise morale ahead of the 7th Workers’ Party Congress, which will be held for the first time in 36 years in early May.
The South’s military said on Thursday that there is a possibility the North will conduct its fifth nuclear test anytime now, as the North’s nuclear test site, Punggye-ri, in North Hamgyong has finished preparations.
Any ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests are banned by a UN Security Council resolution, which was dramatically expanded on March 3 to punish the North for its recent tests.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has not stood back, ordering his country to test a nuclear warhead and ballistic missile, and boasting of the development of nuclear warhead and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) technologies.
Adm. William Gortney said during a U.S. House Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday that North Korea’s mobile KN-08 ICBM is believed to be capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the U.S. mainland.
North Korea has fired a series of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, as well as multiple-rocket launchers, threatening Seoul and Washington, which have been carrying out joint military drills since early March.
Meanwhile, Pyongyang announced that Kim Yong-chun and Hyon Chol-hae were awarded the title of marshal of the North’s Korean People’s Army (KPA), and Ri Myong-su was named vice marshal of the KPA on the occasion of founder Kim Il Sung’s birthday. Ri, the chief of the General Staff of the KPA, succeeded Ri Yong-gil, the former chief of General Staff, after he was executed last February.
BY JEONG YONG-SOO, KIM SO-HEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]