Attempted North Korea missile launch likely fails, says South Korea

    Seoul: North Korea apparently failed with an attempted missile launch Tuesday, the latest in a series of setbacks for a ballistic weapons programme that aspires to threaten the US mainland.

    South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that the missile was a powerful mid-range Musudan. If true, that would make it the fourth failed attempt by the North to conduct a successful test launch of the new missile, which could potentially reach far-away U.S. military bases in Asia and the Pacific.

    The launch attempt took place at around 5:20 a.m. Seoul time (2020 GMT), said the official, who asked not to be identified, without elaborating. South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency said the attempted launch appeared to have been of an intermediate-range Musudan missile.

    The ministry declined to speculate on the missile type, but military sources cited by local media said it was a powerful, medium-range “Musudan” that has already undergone three failed launches this year.

    Yonhap, citing an unidentified government source, said the missile exploded at a mobile launch pad as soon as a launch button was pressed. The report, if confirmed, suggests the missile may have even failed to lift off. Yonhap, however, did not say how its source obtained the information.

    The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in statement that the North’s attempted to launch an unidentified missile early in the morning from the eastern coastal town of Wonsan, but that it likely failed. JCS officials said later Tuesday they were analysing what happened but released no other details.

    Despite recent failures, there has been growing worries about North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities this year, which includes a nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch in February that outsiders saw as a test of banned long-range missile technology.

    The most recent launch follows Seoul’s rejection of recent Pyongyang overtures to talk, part of what some analysts see as an attempt by the North to win concessions from its rivals.

    Musudan missiles have a potential range of about 3,500 kilometers (2,180 miles), which would put U.S. military bases in Guam within their striking distance. South Korea believes the North does not have a functional long-range missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland, but the North is working on that technology.

    Japan put its military alert on Monday for a possible North Korean ballistic missile launch, state broadcaster NHK reported.

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