A missile launch off the eastern coast of North Korea (DPRK) appears to have ended in failure, according to reports from South Korean and US officials.
It is a potentially embarrassing blow for leader Kim Jong-un ahead of next month’s party congress.
The rocket is believed to have been an intermediate-range Musudan missile. Its launch coincided with the Day of the Sun celebrations to honour the birthday of North Korea’s founding leader, Kim Il-sung.
Jeong Joon-hee, a spokesperson for the South Korean Unification Ministry said:
“In March, Kim Jong-un instructed the military to carry out several additional tests including a missile test. Now, North Korea seems to be trying to split opinions within the international community, showing a strong will to maintain its attitude, not yielding to sanctions which have been imposed and, internally, it also seems that there is an aspect of building the achievements of Kim Jong-un ahead of the party congress.”
The launch is one of several alleged to have taken place so far in 2016, which have triggered the slapping of UN sanctions on the secretive state.
Criticism of the reported missile tests has been loud and following the April launch, even North Korean ally China joined in.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang underlined that the UN Security Council has been very clear about the DPRK firing rockets.
“At present, the situation on the peninsula is complex and sensitive. We hope all parties can strictly respect the decisions of the Security Council and avoid taking any steps that could further worsen tensions.”
Chinese state media Xinhua was more direct, saying the failed launch “marks the latest in a string of sabre-rattling that, if unchecked, will lead the country to nowhere,” the agency said in an English language commentary.
“Nuclear weapons will not make Pyongyang safer. On the contrary, its costly military endeavours will keep on suffocating its economy.”