North Korea’s neighbours claim that the nuclear-armed country launched an “unidentified projectile” which appeared to fail, exploding immediately after launch.
The suspected missile was fired from an airfield outside the capital Pyongyang, over reports that the North was looking to test-fire its largest missile yet.
Witnesses claim to have heard loud “blowing” sounds, followed by a loud “crash”.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff official said it’s presumed to be a ballistic missile and seemed to explode in mid-air while still in its booster phase, at an altitude of below 20 kilometres.
Despite North Korea saying that two of the launches were a “reconnaissance satellite”, South Korea and the United States believe those tests were related to a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system.
An ICBM system is a missile with a minimum range of 5,500 kilometres designed primarily for nuclear weapons delivery.
U.S. condemns launch as a violation of UNSC resolutions
A US Department of State spokesperson declined to comment on the reported failure, however condemned the launch as a violation of UNSC resolutions and urged Pyongyang to “refrain from further destabilizing acts”.
UN Security Council’s resolution 1695, which was passed in 2006, calls on North Korea to suspend activities related to its ballistic missile programme.
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North Korea has so far carried out nine weapons tests this year, including what the US claims were tests of a new ICBM system.
The US believes they were likely to have been experimental launches before a probable full-range ICBM launch.
In January, a meeting chaired by leader Kim Jong Un, said it would consider resuming “all temporarily suspended” nuclear and ICBM tests as part of an effort to boost the country’s military against a “hostile” United States.