Another Failed Missile Launch for North Korea
North Korean Missile Launch Failed, Seoul’s Military Says
South Korea’s military said a missile launch by North Korea early Sunday from the port city of Sinpo “is presumed to have failed.”
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff did not provide details of the launch, and it was not immediately clear what type of missile was fired.
The launch came less than a day after a massive military parade in the North Korean capital that was widely viewed in world capitals as a show of force by the government of Kim Jong Un.
South Korea’s official Yonhap News Agency said Seoul’s national security chief would convene the National Security Council later Sunday to assess the situation.
There was no immediate comment from Washington, which is engaged in a sharp, multinational diplomatic offensive aimed at persuading North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to end his push to develop nuclear weaponry.
US Pacific Command Reports Explosion
A short while after the launch, a statement from the U.S. Pacific Command said the missile blew up almost immediately and that its type was still being assessed.
The statement also reiterated Washington’s full commitment “to working closely with our allies,” particularly South Korea and Japan, to maintain security.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, en route to South Korea late Saturday (Washington time), was briefed on the failed launch and conferred with President Donald Trump, according to a statement from his office.
North Korea Still Working on Nuclear Missile Program
Earlier this week, as tensions worsened between Washington and Pyongyang, Trump ordered a U.S. naval strike group headed by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier to the Korean Peninsula in show of force.
Pyongyang conducted two unauthorized nuclear test explosions last year and nearly two dozen rocket launches in a years-long push to expand its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
North Korean leader Kim declared in a speech on New Year’s Day that his country’s program to build intercontinental ballistic missiles had “reached its final stage.”
Sunday’s failed missile test occurred near the naval base in Sinpo where North Korea is reportedly developing a sea-based nuclear deterrent.
Pyongyang launched a ballistic missile from the same region earlier this month ahead of a summit between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, where they discussed the North Korean nuclear threat.
U.S. officials said that missile appeared to be a liquid-fueled, extended-range Scud missile that flew about 60 km, only a fraction of its range, before spinning out of control.
Analysts say North Korea is years away from developing a submarine launch based missile capability (SLBM), but with each test it moves one step closer. From a strategic standpoint a credible North Korean SLBM capability could nullify the advantage of the U.S. THAAD missile defense system being deployed in South Korea. Analysts say submarines can be positioned outside of the THAAD radar field of vision that is forward looking toward the North.
China opposes THAAD as a threat to its own security, but also has spoken out against North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests and has supported U.N. sanctions. China on Friday again called for talks to defuse the crisis.
North Korea Under Continuing International Sanctions
Pyongyang has been under United Nations sanctions since 2006, along with an international arms embargo aimed at slowing its development of its banned nuclear and missile programs.
Since then, Washington and a vast majority of world governments have repeatedly demanded that the North denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. However, Western leaders have yet to devise a plan that would either compel the North to cooperate or create incentives for it to do so.
Trump has in recent weeks pressed China to persuade its North Korean ally to curb its nuclear ambitions, but results of those efforts are not yet clear.
Source: Voice of America
Photo: North Korea – Sculptures at Juche Tower, Pyongyang, by Nicor (2012).