North Korea fired three short-range missiles, but two of them “failed in flight” while the third blew up shortly after launching, the U.S. military said Friday.
IT’S A DUD: North Korean missiles failed after launch, US military says https://t.co/9ufWFHkcAe
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Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the projectiles fired from the North’s eastern coast flew about 155 miles, though it did not mention any failures. It said South Korea and U.S. militaries were analyzing the launch and didn’t immediately provide more details.
Cmdr. David Benham, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Command, said the missiles were launched over a 30-minute period. He said the first and third missiles “failed in flight,” but did not provide further details. The second missile “appears to have blown up almost immediately,” he added.
Benham said the missiles did not pose a threat to North America or U.S. military facilities on the island of Guam. Earlier this month, North Korea created a tense standoff with the United States by threatening to lob some of its missiles toward Guam.
The launch came five days after U.S. and South Korean forces began annual military exercises that the North claims are a rehearsal for war. Tensions on the peninsula generally ratchet up during the maneuvers and a series of larger exercises held each spring.
Before the latest missile launches were confirmed, North Korean state media said that dictator Kim Jong Un inspected a special operation forces training of the country’s army that simulated attacks on South Korean islands along the countries’ western sea border in what appeared to be in response to the ongoing U.S.-South Korea war games.
Kim reportedly told his troops that they “should think of mercilessly wiping out the enemy with arms only and occupying Seoul at one go and the southern half of Korea.”
The Korean Central News Agency said that the “target striking contest” involved war planes, multiple-rocket launchers and self-propelled guns that attacked targets meant to represent South Korea’s Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong islands before special operation combatants “landed by surprise” on rubber boats.
The border islands have occasionally seen military skirmishes between the rivals, including a North Korean artillery barrage on Yeonpyeong in 2010 that left two South Korean marines and two civilians dead.
North Korea had not launched any missiles since the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution imposing new sanctions against the rogue nation on Aug. 5. Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson trumpeted the lack of “missile launches or provocative acts” by the North since the resolution was passed.
“I am pleased to see that the regime in Pyongyang has certainly demonstrated some level of restraint that we’ve not seen in the past,” Tillerson said at the time.
At a campaign-style rally that night in Phoenix, President Trump told the crowd that “I respect the fact that I believe [Kim Jong Un] is starting to respect us. I respect that fact very much.”
On Wednesday, North Korean state media released photos appearing to show the designs of one or possibly two new missiles hanging on a wall behind Kim Jong Un while he visited a plant that makes solid-fuel engines for the country’s ballistic-missile program.
In response to North Korea’s expanding nuclear weapons program, South Korea has been moving to strengthen its own capabilities, planning talks with the United States on raising the warhead limits on its missiles and taking steps to place additional launchers to a U.S. anti-missile defense system in the country’s southeast.
South Korea has also been testing new missiles of its own, including the 497 mile-range Hyunmoo-2. Although the missile has not been operationally deployed yet, it is considered a key component to the so-called “kill chain” pre-emptive strike capability the South is pursuing to cope with the North’s growing nuclear and missile threat.