US, S. Korea say lat­est N. Korea mis­sile launch fails

Malta Independent - - WORLD - Hyung-Jin Kim

South Korea and the U.S. said Sun­day that the lat­est mis­sile launch by North Korea ended in a fail­ure af­ter the pro­jec­tile re­port­edly ex­ploded soon af­ter liftoff.

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a state­ment that the mil­i­tary be­lieves the North un­suc­cess­fully at­tempted to fire a mid-range Musu­dan mis­sile. It said the failed launch was made near an air­port in the North’s North Py­on­gan prov­ince.

South Korea’s Yon­hap news agency said that the mis­sile was be­lieved to have ex­ploded soon af­ter liftoff. Yon­hap cited no source for this in­for­ma­tion.

South Korea strongly con­demns the launch be­cause it vi­o­lates U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions that bans any bal­lis­tic ac­tiv­i­ties by North Korea, the state­ment said.

The U.S. mil­i­tary first re­ported the launch was at­tempted at 11:33 p.m. EDT Fri­day (12:03 p.m. Satur­day lo­cal time) and that the mis­sile didn’t pose a threat to North Amer­ica. The ac­tion brought harsh crit­i­cism from the U.S.

“We strongly con­demn this and North Korea’s other re­cent mis­sile tests, which vi­o­late U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tions ex­plic­itly pro­hibit­ing North Korea’s launches us­ing bal­lis­tic mis­sile tech­nol­ogy,” said Cmdr. Gary Ross, a Pen­tagon spokesman. He said the U.S. would raise con­cerns at the U.N.

“Our com­mit­ment to the de­fense of our al­lies, in­clud­ing the Repub­lic of Korea and Ja­pan, in the face of these threats, is iron­clad,” Ross said. “We re­main pre­pared to de­fend our­selves and our al­lies from any at­tack or provo­ca­tion.”

Ja­pan has ex­pressed con­cern over the launches, and De­fense Min­is­ter To­momi Inada said Sun­day that she wants to work in co­op­er­a­tion with the U.S. and South Korea to as­sure her coun­try’s se­cu­rity.

North Korea has claimed tech­ni­cal break­throughs in its goal of de­vel­op­ing a long-range nu­clear mis­sile­ca­pable of reach­ing the con­ti­nen­tal United States. South Korean de­fense of­fi­cials have said the North doesn’t yet have such a weapon.

It’s the lat­est in a se­ries of moves by North Korea aimed ap­par­ently at dis­play­ing a show of force. As re­cently as last month, it fired three bal­lis­tic mis­siles off its east coast, timed to get the at­ten­tion of world lead­ers in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent Barack Obama who were vis­it­ing the re­gion for a se­ries of sum­mits. The U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil sub­se­quently con­demned those North Korean launches and threat­ened “fur­ther sig­nif­i­cant mea­sures” if it re­fused to stop its nu­clear and mis­sile tests.

North Korea also con­ducted its fifth nu­clear test last month and in all has launched more than 20 bal­lis­ticmis­siles this year, part of its pro­gram aimed at im­prov­ing the de­liv­ery sys­tem for nu­clear weapons. Ear­lier this year, North Korea suc­cess­fully launched a Musu­dan mis­sile in June af­ter sev­eral failed at­tempts.

Musu­dan has a range of 3,500 kilo­me­ters (2,180 miles) — enough to reach U.S. mil­i­tary in­stall­ments in Ja­pan and Guam.

Obama has vowed to work with the United Na­tions to tighten sanc­tions against North Korea, but has also said that the U.S. was still open to di­a­logue if the gov­ern­ment changes course.

The U.S. strat­egy has largely cen­tered on try­ing to get China, North Korea’s tra­di­tional ally, to use its in­flu­ence to per­suade the North to change course. North Korea is con­tin­u­ing mis­sile test launches even as the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil is de­lib­er­at­ing a fur­ther tight­en­ing of sanc­tions af­ter the Septem­ber nu­clear test.

Pre­vi­ously in Au­gust, Ja­panese and South Korean of­fi­cials said a medium-range bal­lis­tic mis­sile flew about 1,000 kilo­me­ters (620 miles) and landed near Ja­pan’s territorial wa­ters.

The USS Ron­ald Rea­gan air­craft car­rier is es­corted into Busan port, South Korea, af­ter com­plet­ing a joint drill with the South Korean navy in south­ern wa­ters off the Korean Penin­sula yes­ter­day. South Korea and the U.S. said Sun­day that the lat­est mis­sile launch by North Korea ended in a fail­ure af­ter the pro­jec­tile re­port­edly ex­ploded soon af­ter liftoff Pho­to­graph: AP

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