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New North Korean Missile Test Fails, Explodes, U.S. Says

  • RFE/RL

The U.S. military says North Korea has failed in an attempt to test-fire a missile, saying the launch "blew up almost immediately."

The U.S. military, which has troops stationed in South Korea, said it detected the failed missile launch at 2121 GMT on April 15, hours before U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to land in Seoul.

The U.S. Pacific Command said the U.S. military "is fully committed to working closely with our allies in the Republic of Korea and in Japan to maintain security."

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said President Donald Trump "and his military team are aware of North Korea's most recent unsuccessful missile launch. The president has no further comment."

The U.S. announcement confirmed earlier reports by the South Korean officials of the failed missile test.

"North Korea attempted to test an unidentified type of missile from Sinpo area in the South Hamkyong Province this morning, but we suspect the launch has failed," the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency, citing an unidentified South Korean intelligence source, said the missile did not appear to have flown far from its launch site before exploding.

The attempted launch comes a day after the North rolled out intercontinental ballistic missiles and other military hardware at a massive parade and vowed that it was "ready to hit back with nuclear attacks" against its enemies.

It took place amid concerns that North Korea was possibly preparing for its sixth nuclear test or a significant rocket launch, such as its first flight test of an ICBM.

It also comes as Vice President Pence is set to arrive in South Korea later in the day as part of a 10-day tour of the Asia-Pacific region. His aides said the visit was a sign of the U.S. commitment to South Korea in the face of rising tension with the North.

The White House said Pence had been made aware of the "failed missile launch" and is in contact with the U.S. president.

Amid the elevated tensions, the United States dispatched what Trump called an "armada" of ships, including an aircraft carrier, into waters off the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea under leader Kim Jong Un launched a long-range rocket and conducted two nuclear tests in 2016. Its goal is to develop a long-range nuclear missile capable of reaching the continental United States.

A previous missile test from Sinpo failed earlier this month, with the projectile spinning out of control and plunging into the sea.

Analysts say North Korean missile and nuclear tests have three main goals -- develop the technologies, bolster the domestic image of Kim, and apply political pressure on Seoul and Washington.

North and South Korea are technically still at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended without an official peace treaty. The U.S. military has about 28,500 troops stationed in the South.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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