The United States and South Korea claim they have detected an unsuccessful missile test conducted by North Korea, the second such failed test in the past week.
According to a statement released by the US Strategic Command late on Wednesday, the projectile, believed to be an intermediate-range Musudan ballistic missile, exploded soon after launch from the western city of Kusong at about 6:30 a.m. local time on Thursday (2200 GMT Wednesday) in Pyongyang.
The US “strongly condemns” the missile launch, considering it a provocation, said Navy Commander Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman, in the statement, adding that Washington would raise its “concerns” at the United Nations in a bid to bolster international resolve in holding Pyongyang accountable for “these measures.”
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff also, in a statement, “strongly condemned” Pyongyang’s constant “illegal acts of provocation,” shortly after it claimed that it detected the attempted missile launch.
The Musudan ballistic missile, according to Washington and Seoul, has a range of 3,000 kilometers and can be launched from road mobile launchers.
Last Sunday, both Washington and Seoul’s militaries announced that the reclusive country had carried out an unsuccessful missile launch, believed to be a Musudan, from the same region at 0333 GMT a day earlier.
On Wednesday, hours before the latest launch, the US and South Korea held a round of talks in Washington and agreed to boost a high-level Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group in an attempt to exert the full capacity of “national power — including diplomacy, information, military coordination, and economic elements” in the face of perceived North Korean missile and nuclear threats.
North Korea has been testing different types of missiles at an unprecedented rate this year, and the capability to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile is especially worrying for its neighbors South Korea and Japan, as well as the United States.
Pyongyang says it will not abandon its nuclear military program unless Washington ends its hostile policy toward North Korea and dissolves the US-led command in South Korea. Thousands of US soldiers are stationed in South Korea and Japan.
The UN has adopted five rounds of crippling sanctions on Pyongyang since it first tested an atomic device in 2006.
The costly missile and nuclear tests come at a time of worsening famine in North Korea.