Missile launch by North Korea fails immediately
North Korea launched an unidentified projectile from an airfield near Pyongyang Wednesday morning, but the test failed almost immediately, according to the South Korean military authorities.
It was suspected to be a test of a long-range ballistic missile.
Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) sent a text message to reporters at 10:06 a.m. about the failed launch, adding that South Korean and U.S. intelligence were in the middle of analyzing the launch.
The announcement from the JCS came after Japanese broadcaster NHK issued a news report that a North Korean missile test was imminent.
The failed launch came shortly after South Korean intelligence told the JoongAng Ilbo on Sunday that Seoul had detected signs that the North was gearing up to launch additional missiles from Sunan Airport.
Satellite imagery of the airport suggested that the regime was preparing for a missile launch by laying down concrete strips to reinforce the runway surface.
Amid a flurry of missile tests – seven in January alone – Pyongyang conducted two missile tests on Feb. 27 and March 5, which Seoul and Washington believe were experimental launches for a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system.
In state media reports on those two tests, the North claimed the launches were aimed at developing the country’s space program by placing a reconnaissance satellite into orbit.
Wednesday’s failed launch is the first by the North since the election of Yoon Suk-yeol of the conservative People Power Party, which is expected to take a harder stance on Pyongyang's development of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.
On the campaign trail, Yoon suggested that South Korea should once again host U.S. tactical nuclear weapons on its soil and hone its capability to strike first against the North if an attack against the South is detected.
BY MICHAEL LEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]