A North Korean missile launch has failed, U.S. and South Korean officials say, less than two weeks after the North heralded a major breakthrough in its rocket development program.
Pyongyang has sent alarms bells ringing throughout the region with a series of weapons tests in recent weeks.
The U.S. envoy for North Korea policy, Joseph Yun, met his South Korean counterpart, Kim Hong-kyun, in Seoul on March 22 to discuss the North, which is under several sets of sanctions from the United Nations because of its atomic and ballistic-missile programs.
The March 22 launch was made from a location near the city of Wonsan, on North Korea's east coast, the same place it launched several intermediate-range missiles last year. All but one of those attempts failed.
"U.S. Pacific Command detected what we assess was a failed North Korean missile launch attempt," Commander Dave Benham, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Command, said in a statement.
"A missile appears to have exploded within seconds of launch."
South Korean military officials also said they detected a launch failure.
It was not clear what type of missile was involved in the launch. North Korea fired four ballistic missiles on March 6 and earlier this week, Pyongyang tested a rocket engine that leader Kim Jong Un called "a new birth" for the country’s rocket industry.
Since the start of 2016, North Korea has defied UN resolutions by conducting two nuclear tests and a series of missile launches. It is aiming to develop long-range missiles with atomic warheads that can reach the United States.
On March 17, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said patience with North Korea over its weapons program had run out. All options, including military action, were on the table if the North threatens South Korean or U.S. forces, he said.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP