A suspected powerful intermediate-range North Korean missile crashed moments after liftoff Thursday, South Korea's Defense Ministry said, in what would be the second such embarrassing failure in recent weeks.
The report of the North Korean launch failure is particularly humiliating as it comes ahead of a major North Korean ruling party meeting next week at which leader Kim Jong Un is believed to want to place his stamp more forcefully on a government he inherited after his dictator father's death in late 2011.
The launch was likely the second attempted test of a Musudan, a new intermediate-range missile that could one day be capable of reaching far-off U.S. military bases in Asia and the Pacific.
The projectile fired from a North Korean northeastern coastal town crashed a few seconds after liftoff, a South Korean Defense Ministry official said, requesting anonymity because of office rules. It wasn't immediately known whether it crashed on land or into the sea.
South Korea's Foreign Ministry called the launch a provocation and said it will try to increase international pressure on North Korea.
The failed launch comes amid North Korean anger over annual South Korean-U.S. military drills that it calls a rehearsal for an invasion. The North has fired many missiles and artillery shells into the sea in recent months in an apparent protest against the drills, which end Saturday.
Earlier this week, South Korean media reported that North Korea had placed a Musudan missile on standby for an impending launch. The reports said the missile was one of two Musudan missiles North Korea had earlier deployed in the northeast.
Source: Associated Press