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Seoul: N. Korea fails in missile test-fire

The Associated Press SEOUL (AP) — A North Korean mid-range ballistic missile apparently failed shortly after launch Saturday, South Korea and the United States said, the second such test-fire flop in recent weeks but a clear message of defiance as a U.S. supercarrier conducts drills in nearby waters.

North Korean ballistic missile tests are proscribed by the United Nations because they’re seen as part of the North’s push for a nuclear-tipped missile that can strike the U.S. mainland. The latest test came as U.S. officials pivoted from a hard line to diplomacy at the U.N. in an effort to address what may be Washington’s most pressing foreign policy challenge.

The timing of the North’s test was striking: Only hours earlier the U.N. Security Council held a ministerial meeting on Pyongyang’s escalating weapons program. North Korean officials boycotted the meeting, which was chaired by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the North fired the unidentified missile from around Pukchang, which is near the capital Pyongyang, but provided no other details.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters, said the missile was likely a medium-range KN-17 ballistic missile. It broke up a couple minutes after the launch, and the pieces fell into the Sea of Japan.

Analysts say the KN-17 is a new Scud-type missile developed by North Korea. The North also test-fired the missile earlier this month; U.S. officials called that launch a failure.

North Korea routinely test-fires a variety of ballistic missiles, despite U.N. prohibitions, as part of its weapons development. While shorter-range missiles are somewhat routine, there is strong outside worry about each longer-range North Korean ballistic test.

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