Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

US: North Korean Missile Launch a 'Catastrophic' Failure

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

US: North Korean Missile Launch a 'Catastrophic' Failure

Article excerpt

SEOUL, South Korea * A North Korean missile launch meant to celebrate the birthday of the country's founder ended in failure, U.S. defense officials said Friday, an embarrassing setback in what was reportedly the inaugural test of a new, powerful mid-range missile.

"It was a fiery, catastrophic attempt at a launch that was unsuccessful," said Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. He said that it had probably been a road-mobile missile, given that it was launched from a location not usually used for ballistic missile launches, on the country's east coast.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency carried an unsourced report that a "Musudan" missile, which could one day be capable of reaching far- off U.S. military bases in Asia and the Pacific, had exploded in the air a few seconds after liftoff.

A U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity said that it appeared to have been a Musudan missile but that no definitive conclusion had been reached. Despite the failure, the North has another Musudan loaded on a mobile launcher and Pyongyang will probably fire it, according to South Korean and U.S. authorities, Yonhap reported.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, speaking to reporters during a stop on the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis in the South China Sea, said that although the U.S. deemed the launch to be unsuccessful, it "was nonetheless another provocation by North Korea in a region that doesn't need that kind of behavior."

The two Koreas have been trading threats as Pyongyang vents its accustomed anger over annual South Korean-U.S. military drills that North Korea calls a rehearsal for an invasion. The North has recently fired a slew of missiles and artillery shells into the sea in an apparent protest against the drills.

The surge in belligerent rhetoric and nuclear and missile activity in the North may also be linked to leader Kim Jong Un's preparations for a major ruling party meeting next month that analysts believe he will use to further solidify his autocratic rule. …

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