North Korea’s latest missile test has failed with the projectile exploding almost immediately after the launch, says South Korea and the US.
“The communist state attempted to launch an unidentified missile from the port city of Sinpo on its east coast in the morning and the launch is presumed to have failed,” said a statement released by the South’s military early on Sunday.
The US military also confirmed the failed test, noting that it “blew up almost immediately.”
“US Pacific Command detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean missile launch at 11:21 a.m. Hawaii time April 15. The launch of the ballistic missile occurred near Sinpo,” said US Pacific Command spokesman Commander David Benham. “The type of missile is still being assessed,” he added.
South Korean officials have said that the tested missile seems to be similar to what Pyongyang tested earlier in the month. On April 5, the North launched what is thought to be a KN-15 medium-range ballistic missile which fell into the Sea of Japan after flying for 60 kilometers.
The latest test happened just a few hours before US Vice-President Mike Pence’s scheduled visit to Seoul and just one day after Pyongyang showcased its submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) for the first time during a massive military parade.
The latest incident also comes at a time of increased tensions between North Korea and the US in recent weeks, raising fears of a potential military confrontation between the two sides. Washington has voiced concerns over Pyongyang’s tests, but the North says such launches are an act of deterrence against a potential invasion by the US or South Korea.
Last week, a US aircraft carrier-led strike group set course for the western Pacific Ocean close to the Korean peninsula amid growing fears over the North’s weapons tests.
The strike group, dubbed Carl Vinson, will be operating in the Western Pacific until further notice instead of partaking in a series of previously planned Australian port visits.
China seeks Russia’s aid for defusing North Korea tension
Meanwhile, according to a statement released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, China is seeking Russia’s assistance in cooling down regional tensions.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in which they agreed that their common goal was to “bring all the parties back to the negotiating table.”
“China is ready to coordinate closely with Russia to help cool down as quickly as possible the situation on the peninsula and encourage the parties concerned to resume dialogue,” Wang told Lavrov, adding that, “Preventing war and chaos on the peninsula meets common interests.”
In February, North Korea also simultaneously launched four ballistic missiles off its east coast, three of which landed close to Japan. In August, it also successfully tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile some 500 kilometers off the coast of Japan, in a move which North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hailed as the “greatest success.”