A Democratic People’s Republic of Korea missile launch meant to celebrate the birthday of the country’s founder has apparently failed, South Korean and U.S. officials said Friday, an embarrassing setback in what was reportedly the inaugural test of a new, powerful mid-range missile.
The U.S. and South Korean officials provided few details, including the type of missile. But South Korea’s Yonhap news agency carried an unsourced report that a “Musudan” missile, which could one day be capable of reaching far-off U.S. military bases in Asia and the Pacific, exploded in the air a few seconds after liftoff.
Professor Sung-Yoon Lee on DPRK missile launch
CCTV America’s Elaine Reyes spoke to Sung-Yoon Lee about what’s the significance of launching a missile on the day of the founder of the country. He’s a Kim Koo-Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Studies at The Fletcher School at Tufts University.
Professor Sung-Yoon Lee on DPRK missile launchCCTV America's Elaine Reyes spoke to Sung-Yoon Lee about what's the significance of launching a missile on the day of the founder of the country. He's a Kim Koo-Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Studies at The Fletcher School at Tufts University.
A U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters told The Associated Press that it appeared to be a Musudan missile but no definitive conclusion had been reached.
Despite the failure, the DPRK has another Musudan loaded on a mobile launcher and Pyongyang will likely fire it, according to South Korean and U.S. authorities, Yonhap reported.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, speaking to reporters during a stop on the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier in the South China Sea, said that while the U.S. deemed the launch to be unsuccessful, it “was nonetheless another provocation by North Korea in a region that doesn’t need that kind of behavior.”
The launch comes as the DPRK and South Korea trade threats amid Pyongyang’s anger over annual South Korean-U.S. military drills that the DPRK calls a rehearsal for an invasion. The DPRK has recently fired a slew of missiles and artillery shells into the sea in an apparent protest against the drills.
The surge in belligerent rhetoric and nuclear and missile activity in the DPRK may also be linked to leader Kim Jong Un’s preparations for a major ruling party meeting next month that analysts believe he will use to further solidify his autocratic rule. Some believe that Kim may try to use the country’s claims of recent nuclear and missile success as a way to turn domestic focus toward tackling the country’s abysmal economy.
The DPRK has never flight-tested a Musudan, though it unveiled the missile during a 2010 military parade. South Korean defense officials said the DPRK has deployed Musudan missiles since 2007.
Friday is the birthday anniversary of the late Kim Il Sung, the current leader’s grandfather and the nation’s founder. The DPRK has occasionally used such celebrations to stage nuclear or missile tests that outsiders consider provocations.
Story by the Associated Press