North Korea Mid-Range Ballistic Missile Explodes During Launch

  • Move follows 22 missile launches, two nuclear tests this year
  • U.S., China in talks on curbing North Korea’s energy trade

North Korea's Nukes Keep Getting Stronger

North Korea fired a ballistic missile on Saturday that immediately exploded after launch.

The missile was thought to be a mid-range weapon capable of hitting U.S. military bases in Japan or Guam in a move that comes as the international community considers further sanctions on the isolated nation.

The projectile, believed to be a Musudan missile, was fired from near an airfield in the western city of Kusong, at 12:33 a.m. South Korean time, according to a statement from South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“The failed launch shows North Korea’s launch capability isn’t perfect, so Kim Jong Un might fire a Musudan again or any other missile soon given his temper,” Yoo Dong Ryul, President of Korea Institute of Liberal Democracy in Seoul, said by phone.

Military officials from South Korea and U.S. shared information on the launch and concluded Sunday that the missile seems to be a Musudan, South Korea’s JCS said. The launch of “a ballistic is an apparent violation of UN Security Council resolutions” and South Korea “strongly denounces illegal provocation by North Korea,” the Joint Chiefs said in a statement.

This latest provocation comes after the launch of 22 ballistic missiles and tests of two nuclear devices already this year -- all against United Nation’s resolutions. Saturday’s firing had been anticipated as a way to commemorate the Oct. 10 anniversary of the founding of the workers’ party.

North Korea Missile Launches, Nuclear Detonations: Timeline

With sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council in March failing to stop Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, the U.S. and its allies are striving to come up with stronger measures. China, North Korea’s only major ally and by far its biggest trading partner, is locked in negotiations with the U.S. over curbing its energy trade with North Korea. South Korea last month picked a site to deploy a U.S. missile system aimed at defending the nation from any North Korean attack.

North Korea is likely to continue to test its weapons as it aims to further develop its capacity to make smaller and lighter warheads that can fit into its intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Institute for Far Eastern Studies said in a report on Sept. 30.

The weekend launch puts the situation in a “new phase,” Japan’s Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said in a Fuji television program on Sunday, adding Tokyo is seeking a new response to the threat.

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