AFP-JijiSEOUL (AFP-Jiji) — A fresh North Korean missile test failed when it exploded after launch Sunday, the U.S. military said, a day after Pyongyang defiantly showcased its ballistic arsenal at a giant military parade.
The failure, which is likely to be seen as something of a public embarrassment for the regime, came amid soaring tensions in the region over the North’s nuclear weapons ambitions.
“The missile blew up almost immediately,” the U.S. Defense Department said of the early morning launch which was also detected by the South Korean military.
Neither was able to determine immediately what kind of missile was used in the test, the timing of which appeared very deliberately chosen.
It came after North Korea displayed nearly 60 missiles — including what is suspected to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile — at a parade on Saturday to mark the 105th birthday of its founder Kim Il Sung. The missile failure also came hours ahead of a visit by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence to South Korea where the North’s weapons program will top the agenda.
North Korea has a habit of firing off missiles to mark major political anniversaries, or as gestures of defiance to top U.S. officials visiting the region.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said President Donald Trump had been briefed on the latest test but had “no further comment.”
Sunday’s launch was carried out around dawn from Sinpo, a site on North Korea’s east coast where it has a shipyard.
“It is likely that this launch is a test for a new type of missile or an upgrade so the possibility is high for further provocation in the near future,” Kim Dong Yub, a military expert at Kyungnam University’s Institute of Far Eastern Studies in Seoul, said.
In August last year, a submarine-launched ballistic missile tested from Sinpo flew 500 kilometers toward Japan.