Pyongyang’s launch ends in failure once again

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Pyongyang’s launch ends in failure once again

North Korea fired what appeared to be an intermediate-range ballistic missile early on Thursday from its east coast but the missile seemed to have exploded shortly after the launch, a South Korean military source said.

The missile seems to have been 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.

The military source said the missile was fired around 6:40 a.m. from the eastern port city of Wonsan, then appeared to explode a few seconds after taking off. The intelligence authorities of South Korea and the United States are scrutinizing why the test-fire may have ended in failure.

This marks another embarrassing failure for North Korea, which seems to be rushing out a series of advanced ballistic missile tests, following North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s recent order to carry out a ballistic missile test and a nuclear test.

North Korea test-fired the Musudan missile, which was seen as a celebration of the 104th birthday of the late founder Kim Il Sung on April 15, but South Korea and the U.S. concluded it was a failure. The earlier test was the first test fire of the Musudan missile type from a transporter erector launcher, a missile-launching vehicle, after it was deployed in 2007. It had not been flight-tested since.

“It was expected that North Korea would fully make up for the previous fault before carrying out another test,” said a source at the Ministry of Defense. “But we assumed that the test failed as a result of its development being too heavily rushed.”

The North also conducted its test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile last Saturday near the city of Sinpo. It has not yet been definitely determined whether this test was successful.

BY JEONG YONG-SOO [kim.sohee0905@joongang.co.kr]

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