According to the South Korean military, North Korea fired a “unknown projectile” on Wednesday that failed almost immediately after launch.
North Korea has been warned by the US that it may be prepared to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at full range for the first time since 2017, and the launch on Wednesday comes amid allegations that the nuclear-armed North is planning to test-fire its largest missile yet.
A North Korean missile launched from Pyongyang’s airport failed almost immediately.
The projectile was launched from Sunan Airport, just outside Pyongyang, according to a statement from South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
“It is suspected that it failed shortly after launch,” according to the statement. According to Yonhap news agency, the projectile appeared to detonate in mid-flight shortly after liftoff, citing unnamed sources.
The US military’s Indo Pacific Command criticized the launch, calling it a “ballistic missile launch” and urging Pyongyang to refrain from further destabilizing actions.
According to unidentified witnesses and a photograph of the test showing a red-tinted ball of smoke at the end of a zig-zagging rocket launch track in the sky over Pyongyang, debris fell in or near Pyongyang following the failed test.
“The report of a Sunan failure is troubling because of the potential for harm to heavily populated civilian regions,” said Ankit Panda, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in the United States.
In 2017, a failed intermediate-range ballistic missile launched from another place landed into an industrial or agricultural complex in Tokchon shortly after liftoff.
North Korea has been testing missiles at an unprecedented rate this year, with its ninth test on March 5 prompting condemnation from the United States, South Korea, and Japan.
North Korea has not launched an ICBM or nuclear weapon since 2017, but has indicated that it may do so again now that denuclearization discussions with the US have stalled.