Friday, April 15, 2016 6:15 am
North Korea attempted and failed to launch what experts believe was an intermediate range ballistic missile on Friday in defiance of U.N. sanctions and in an embarrassing setback for leader Kim Jong Un.
The failed launch, as the reclusive country celebrates the “Day of the Sun” on the birthday of Kim’s grandfather, follows the North’s fourth nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch in February, which led to new U.N. sanctions.
But the North has nevertheless pushed ahead with its missile program, supervised by Kim.
The U.S.-based 38 North website, which specializes in North Korea, has said there has been activity at the country’s nuclear site based on satellite imagery, and on Wednesday said the possibility of a fifth nuclear test “could not be ruled out”.
Friday is the anniversary of North Korean founding president Kim Il Sung’s birthday which is widely celebrated. In 2012, it was marked by a long-range rocket launch attempt which also failed.
The U.S. Defense Department said in a statement the launch at 0533 Korea time (2033 GMT Thursday) was detected and tracked by the U.S. Strategic Command which also assessed it had failed.
“We call again on North Korea to refrain from actions and rhetoric that further raise tensions in the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its international commitments and obligations,” a U.S. State Department official said.
It was likely a Musudan, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said, an intermediate-range ballistic missile with a design range of more than 3,000 km (1,800 miles) that can be fired from a road mobile launcher but which has never been flight-tested.
A South Korean defense ministry official said Friday’s launch was believed to have been a failure but declined to identify the type of the missile launched.