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North Korea attempts to launch ballistic missile


PUBLISHED Sat, April 15, 2017 - 7:09pm EDT


North Korea has test-fired a ballistic missile but the launch ended in failure, American and South Korean officials say, just a day after the country staged a massive military parade to mark its founder's birth anniversary. (more)

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The missile was launched at 5:51 a.m. local time on Sunday from a site near the port city of Sinpo in South Hamgyong Province. The type of missile was not immediately known but it is not believed to have been a long-range missile.

"The missile blew up almost immediately," said Commander Dave Benham, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Command.

South Korean and Japanese officials convened emergency meetings after the launch. In the United States, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said President Donald Trump and his military team were aware of the missile launch. "The president has no further comment," Mattis said.

But while experts pointed out that even a failed test provides North Korea with crucial information for their missile development program, a White House foreign policy advisor downplayed the issue. "It's a failed test. It follows another failed test so really no need to reinforce their failure," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"We've got options. We've got a range of options, both militarily, diplomatic and others so we have a wide array of tools at disposal for the president should he choose to use them," the official added. "But for this particular case, if they took the time and energy to launch a missile that failed, we don't need to expend any resources against that."

The official added however that a nuclear test would have been far more provocative. "If it had of been a nuclear test then other actions would have been taken from the U.S.," the official said, without elaborating on how the United States might respond.

Sunday's test comes just a day after North Korea marked the Day of the Sun - the country's biggest holiday - with a massive military parade in the capital Pyongyang. A number of missiles - including the design of what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) - were put on display.

But with tensions running high on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea did not use the holiday to carry out a missile or nuclear test. North Korea has carried out a series of missile tests over the past few months and experts believe a nuclear test is imminent.

Sunday's missile test happened as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was flying to the South Korean capital of Seoul. Pence is traveling to the region to meet with allies such as South Korea and Japan to discuss how to respond to North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

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