South Korea: Sus­pected midrange North Korean mis­sile crashes

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA—A sus­pected pow­er­ful in­ter­me­di­ate-range North Korean mis­sile crashed mo­ments af­ter liftoff Thurs­day, South Korea’s De­fense Min­istry said, in what would be the sec­ond such em­bar­rass­ing fail­ure in re­cent weeks.

The re­port of the North Korean launch fail­ure is par­tic­u­larly hu­mil­i­at­ing as it comes ahead of a ma­jor North Korean rul­ing party meet­ing next week at which leader Kim Jong-un is be­lieved to want to place his stamp more force­fully on a gov­ern­ment he in­her­ited af­ter his dic­ta­tor fa­ther’s death in late 2011.

The launch was likely the sec­ond at­tempted test of a Musu­dan, a new in­ter­me­di­ate-range mis­sile that could one day be ca­pa­ble of reach­ing far-off U.S. mil­i­tary bases in Asia and the Pa­cific.

The pro­jec­tile fired from a North Korean north­east­ern coastal town crashed a few sec­onds af­ter liftoff, a South Korean De­fense Min­istry of­fi­cial said, re­quest­ing anonymity be­cause of of­fice rules. It wasn’t im­me­di­ately known whether it crashed on the land or into the sea.

The failed launch comes amid North Korean anger over an­nual South Korean-U.S. mil­i­tary drills that it calls a re­hearsal for an in­va­sion. The North has fired many mis­siles and ar­tillery shells into the sea in re­cent months in an ap­par­ent protest against the drills.

Ear­lier this week, South Korean me­dia re­ported that North Korea had placed a Musu­dan mis­sile on standby for an im­pend­ing launch. The re­ports said the mis­sile was one of two Musu­dan mis­siles North Korea had ear­lier de­ployed in the northeast.

South Korean and U.S. of­fi­cials said there was a North Korean mis­sile launch on April 15, the birth­day of the North’s late founder, but they have not of­fi­cially con­firmed it was a Musu­dan. U.S. of­fi­cials said that launch ended in fail­ure.

Musu­dan mis­siles have a po­ten­tial range of about 3,500 kilo­me­ters (2,180 miles), which would put U.S. mil­i­tary bases in Guam within their strik­ing dis­tance. North Korea is also push­ing to de­velop a nu­clear-armed long-range mis­sile ca­pa­ble of reach­ing the U.S. main­land, but South Korea be­lieves it does not yet pos­sess such a mis­sile.

Be­fore this month’s sus­pected launches, North Korea had never flighttested a Musu­dan mis­sile, though one was dis­played dur­ing a mil­i­tary pa­rade in 2010 in Py­ongyang.

There is spec­u­la­tion in South Korea that North Korea will soon con­duct a fifth nu­clear test. The North car­ried out a fourth atomic test in Jan­uary and a long-range rocket launch in Fe­bru­ary, earn­ing world­wide con­dem­na­tion and tougher U.N. sanc­tions.

South Korean Pres­i­dent Park Ge­un­hye said Thurs­day there were un­spec­i­fied signs that a fifth test was “im­mi­nent.” She warned an­other nu­clear test would re­sult in North Korea suf­fer­ing harsher sanc­tions.—AP

French riot po­lice of­fi­cers clash with pro­tes­tors dur­ing a demon­stra­tion against the French labour law pro­posal in Nantes, France.

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