SEOUL, June 22 (Korea Bizwire) – North Korea launched what appeared to be two Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) from its east coast early Wednesday morning, with the first test-firing assumed to have been unsuccessful, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
At around 5:58 a.m., North Korea fired off what is presumed to be a Musudan missile from near Wonsan along the east coast, but it seems to have ended in failure, the JCS said, without further details
About two hours later at 8:05 a.m., the North launched another missile presumed to be the same type of IRBM from the same area, the JCS noted.
Whether the second missile’s launch was successful was not immediately known. All previous launches of the missile ended in failure, dealing a blow to the credibility of North Korea’s missile program.
On April 15, North Korea first test-fired the Musudan missile as the country kickstarted its ballistic missile tests and development following North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s much-published orders to accelerate the country’s nuclear and missile sophistication the previous month.
North Korea has deployed some 50 Musudan missiles with its forces since 2007, but none of them had been tested before April.
The latest launches added to the North’s previous four botched back-to-back test launches of the mid-range Musudan.
With an estimated range of some 3,000 to 4,000 kilometers, the Musudan missile could theoretically reach any target in Japan and strike as far away as the U.S. territory of Guam.
On Tuesday, the JCS said it was closely monitoring the North after detecting signs there of preparations for a missile launch.
The latest military provocation by North Korea is sure to further drive a wedge between the Koreas at a time when Pyongyang is unsuccessfully trying to engage Seoul in talks.
Since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un officially stated the need to hold military dialogue with South Korea during the country’s rare party congress in early May, Pyongyang has made several offers for talks.
South Korea has, however, dismissed them as insincere gestures that have been accompanied by North Korea’s continuing military provocations in defiance of the United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Under a series of U.N. resolutions, North Korea is banned from nuclear and ballistic missile-related activities.
“North Korea has tried five launches of missiles presumed to be Musudan so far this year, but all of them were unsuccessful,” South Korea’s defense ministry said, following the botched test-fire earlier in the day,
“This is a clear violation of U.N. resolutions that prohibit any activities involving ballistic missile technology,” the ministry said, denouncing the launch.
A day earlier, South Korea warned that action would be taken at the international level should the North launch another missile.
“This would further isolate the North from the international community, and in such an event, our government plans to take steps, including at the U.N. together with our allies,” ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck said during a regular press briefing.