The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) test-fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile on Thursday morning, which Seoul’s military presumed to have failed.
The launch came shortly after top diplomats and defense chiefs of South Korea and the United States started their two-day meeting in Washington to discuss countermeasures toward Pyongyang’s recent nuclear test and missile launches.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the DPRK launched what is believed to be a road-mobile Musudan missile at about 7 a.m. local time (2200GMT on Wednesday) from Banghyeon airfield in the country’s northwestern North Pyongyan province.
The launch appeared to have failed, the JSC said without elaborating further, according to local media reports. The airfield is located some 100 km north of the DPRK’s capital city of Pyongyang.
The unsuccessful launch followed the start of the two-day meeting in Washington between defense and foreign ministers of South Korea and the United States.
During the two-plus-two dialogue, the two sides are expected to discuss how to address the DPRK’s recent provocations, including the Sept. 9 nuclear device test and a series of missile launches.
The Sept. 9 test was an explosion of a nuclear warhead that can be mounted on ballistic missiles, according to the DPRK’s announcement. Four days earlier, the country test-fired three Rodong missiles from its east coast.
Thursday’s launch also came less than a week after the DPRK failed in its launch attempt on Sunday of a Musudan missile, which has a range of 3,000-4,000 km that can put the entire Japan and the US military base in Guam in its target range.
The Saturday launch ended in failure as the missile exploded soon after its liftoff, according to Seoul’s military assessment.
Pyongyang has test-fired eight Musudan missiles since April 15. Except for the June 22 success at which the missile flew as high as 1,413.6 km and traveled about 400 km, all of other launches had failed.
South Korea’s military has closely monitored the moves of DPRK forces, with all possibilities left open for another nuclear test and the launch of a long-range ballistic missile.
Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 was followed by the launch on Feb. 7 of a long-range rocket. Seoul has been worrying about another long-range rocket launch by the end of this year following the fifth atomic device test in early September.