A US warship is heading towards North Korea after Kim Jong Un carried out yet another failed missile launch
By Hannah Parry
A US warship is heading towards North Korea after Kim Jong Un carried out yet another failed missile launch.
A US official said the ballistic missile, thought to be a mid-range KN-17, was fired from a location in the South Pyeongan province in the early hours of Saturday morning local time. It blew up over land before it ever reached its target of the Sea of Japan, landing around 22 miles from Pukchang airfield, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
It flew for several minutes and reached a maximum height of 44 miles before it apparently failed.
The launch comes just hours after the country announced it was ‘on the brink of nuclear war’ as the United States stages military drills with South Korea.
So far, there has been no comment on the failed test-fire from North Korea. But the failure would be a huge embarrassment to leader Kim Jong-un who has a history of humiliating military misfires.
Earlier this month, there were claims a failed North Korean missile launch may have been ‘thwarted by cyber attacks from the US’.
It is not known whether Saturday’s launch was disrupted by America.
President Donald Trump has responded saying that North Korea had ‘disrespected the wishes of China’ with the missile test.
A PAC-3 Patriot missile unit is deployed against the North Korea’s missile firing at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo, Saturday, April 29, after the test fire
The launch comes just hours after the country announced it was ‘on the brink of nuclear war’. Pictured above, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un
The reported launch hours came after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on China, and the rest of the world, to help force the dictator-led country to give up its nuclear weapons, during his address to the UN Security Council.
Earlier this week, Jong-un’s army showed they were ready for war as they fired rockets and torpedoes at mock enemy warships during North Korea‘s ‘largest ever’ live-fire artillery drills on Tuesday.
Hundreds of tanks were lined up along the eastern coastal town of Wonsan in a show of military strength to celebrate 85 years since the North Korean army was created. Then on Wednesday, South Korea conducted joint military live-fire drills with the US at Seungjin fire training field in Pocheon, South Korea, near the border with North Korea.
Today’s action by Jong un is only likely to escalate the increasingly tense relations between the US and North Korea.
Earlier Friday, North Korea’s KCNA state news agency blamed America for pushing the situation to ‘the brink of nuclear war’ while Jong unlabeled the United States a ‘blackmailing gangster’ holding North Korea at ‘knifepoint’ by supporting its enemies and imposing economic sanctions.
On Thursday, President Trump warned a ‘major, major conflict’ with North Korea was possible over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, while China said the situation on the Korean peninsula could escalate or slip out of control.
President Donald Trump (pictured today stepping off Marine One at the White House) said he wants to resolve the crisis in North Korea peacefully but a military option was not off the table
Trump said he wanted to resolve the crisis peacefully, possibly through the use of new economic sanctions, although a military option was not off the table.
‘There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea,’ Trump said in an interview at the Oval Office.
‘We’d love to solve things diplomatically but it’s very difficult,’ he said, describing North Korea as his biggest global challenge.’
Today’s launch is thought to have been a more medium-range ballistic missile, the sold-fuel KN-17 fired from a mobile launcher, according to US officials. It broke up a couple minutes after the launch, and the pieces fell into the Sea of Japan.
Analysts say the KN-17 is a new Scud-type missile developed by North Korea. The North also test-fired the missile earlier this month; U.S. officials called that launch a failure.
North Korea routinely test-fires a variety of ballistic missiles, despite U.N. prohibitions, as part of its weapons development. While shorter-range missiles are somewhat routine, there is strong outside worry about each longer-range North Korean ballistic test.
The efforts are the latest in long line of failed missile launches by North Korea – at least nine since Trump’s inauguration in January.
Earlier this month, the country attempted to fire a missile, which had just been unveiled as a game-changer’ intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) in a show of military might – only for the weapon to blow up four or five seconds after being launched.
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The South Korean defense ministry said it had detected the failed launch from Sinpo – where North Korea’s biggest submarine base is located. It was ‘presumed to be a new ICBM’ as it was longer than the existing KN-08 or KN-14 missiles.
Defense secretary James Mattis said Donald Trump was ‘aware’ of the launch which took place just as Vice President landed in South Korea ahead of his 10-day Asia tour.
North Korea had another failed missile launch in mid-March, when the missile exploded within seconds of being launched, US officials say.
North Korea is banned from any missile or nuclear launched by the United Nations but that has not stopped it carrying out repeated tests as it attempts to improve its nuclear technology.
Friday’s launch, or Saturday local time, landed near Pukchang, just north of Pyongyang, which isn’t far from where the North earlier this year tested new midrange solid-fuel missiles. The launch raised concerns because they could be quickly fired from land-based mobile launchers and are harder to detect before launch.
North Korea has also test-fired from inland a powerful liquid-fuel midrange missile, which outside experts call the Musudan and which has the potential to reach U.S. military bases in Guam.
More than 300 large-calibre artillery pieces were fired in the drill on Wednesday, called a ‘Combined Fire Demonstration’
The exercises involved submarine torpedo-attacks on mock enemy warships, causing huge explosion
An undated file photo made available by the North Korean Central News Agency on 07 March 2017, that shows four projectiles during a ballistic rocket launching drill of Hwasong artillery units of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) at an undisclosed location
North Korea, technically still at war with the South after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty, regularly threatens to destroy the United States and says it will pursue its nuclear and missile programs to counter perceived US aggression.
But tensions between the North and United States have recently escalated with both North and South Korea conducting military exercises.
Trump took an initial hard line with Pyongyang and sent a nuclear-powered submarine and the USS Carl Vinson aircraft supercarrier to Korean waters. His diplomats have since pivoted and are now taking a softer tone.
Meanwhile, North Korean state news agency blamed the US for the increasingly strained relationship, saying: ‘By staging the largest-ever aggressive joint military drills against the DPRK for the past two months after bringing all sorts of nuclear strategic assets to south Korea.’ DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The agency continued: ‘No one in the world welcomes a gangster blackmailing the owner with a dagger.
The US has looked to China, North Korea’s biggest ally to interject in the situation.
Before meeting Chinese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the beginning of the month, Trump said if China did not intervene in North Korea, the US would ‘take care of it’.
But Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said this week there was a danger that the situation on the Korean peninsula could escalate or slip out of control.
On Friday the United States and China offered starkly different strategies for addressing North Korea’s escalating nuclear threat as Trump’s top diplomat demanded full enforcement of economic sanctions on Pyongyang and urged new penalties. Stepping back from suggestions of U. S. military action, he even offered aid to North Korea if it ends its nuclear weapons program.
The range of Tillerson’s suggestions, which over a span of 24 hours also included restarting negotiations, reflected America’s failure to halt North Korea’s nuclear advances despite decades of U.S.-led sanctions, military threats and stop-and-go rounds of diplomatic engagement. As the North approaches the capability to hit the U.S. mainland with a nuclear-tipped missile, the Trump administration feels it is running out of time.
Chairing a ministerial meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday, Tillerson declared that ‘failing to act now on the most pressing security issue in the world may bring catastrophic consequences.’
Tillerson said all options ‘must remain the table,’ while emphasizing the need for diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea.
His ideas included a ban on North Korean coal imports and preventing its overseas guest laborers, a critical source of government revenue, from sending money home. And he warned of unilateral U.S. moves against international firms conducting banned businesses with Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, which could ensnare banks in China, the North’s primary trade partner.
‘We must have full and complete compliance by every country,’ Tillerson said.
Yet illustrating the international gulf over how best to tackle North Korea, several foreign ministers on the 15-member council expressed fears of a conflict on the Korean Peninsula, which was divided between the American-backed South and communist North even before the 1950-53 Korean War. The conflict ended with no formal peace treaty. And while danger always has lurked, tensions have escalated dramatically as the North’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, has expanded a nuclear arsenal his government says is needed to avert a U.S. invasion.
No voice at Friday’s session was more important than that of China, a conduit for 90 percent of North Korea’s commerce and a country Trump is pinning hopes on for a peaceful resolution to the nuclear crisis. Trump, who recently hosted President Xi Jinping for a Florida summit, has sometimes praised the Chinese leader for a newfound cooperation to crack down on North Korea and sometimes threatened a go-it-alone U.S. approach if Xi fails to deliver.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China would adhere to past U.N. resolutions and wants a denuclearized peninsula. But he spelled out no further punitive steps his government might consider, despite Tillerson’s assertions in an interview hours ahead of the council meeting that Beijing would impose sanctions of its own if North Korea conducts another nuclear test.
Wang put forward a familiar Chinese idea to ease tensions: North Korea suspending its nuclear and missile activities, if the U.S. and South Korea stop military exercises in the region. Washington and Seoul reject the idea.
Amid signs of a possible North Korean nuclear test, the U.S. recently sent a group of warships led by an aircraft carrier to waters off of the Korean Peninsula. North Korea this week conducted large-scale, live-fire exercises on its eastern coast. The U.S. and South Korea also started installing a missile defense system that is supposed to be partially operational within days.
Tillerson said the US does not seek regime change in North Korea, and he signaled American openness to holding direct negotiations with Pyongyang. The US also could resume aid to North Korea once it ‘begins to dismantle its nuclear weapons and missile technology programs,’ he said. Since 1995, he added, Washington has provided more than $1.3 billion to the impoverished country.
But the prospects for any more U.S. money going there appeared bleak. Even negotiations don’t seem likely.
Tillerson said the North must take ‘concrete steps’ to reduce its weapons threat before talks could occur. Six-nation nuclear negotiations with North Korea stalled in 2008. The Obama administration sought to resurrect them in 2012, but a deal to provide food aid in exchange for a nuclear freeze soon collapsed.
‘In a nutshell, (North Korea) has already declared not to attend any type of talks which would discuss its nuclear abandonment, nuclear disbandment,’ Kim In Ryong, North Korea’s deputy U.N ambassador, told The Associated Press. His government declined to attend Friday’s council meeting.
The intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), which Pyongyang claim could travel thousands of miles, have increased concerns that the secretive state is preparing for a possible attack on Washington after they were paraded during the country’s Day of the Sun celebrations on April 15.
The two new kinds of ICBM were enclosed in canister launchers mounted on the back of transporter erector launcher trucks as they were paraded in front of crowds during today’s festivities.
Pyongyang has yet to formally announce it has an operational ICBM but experts believe they the new rockets could be liquid-fuelled intercontinental ballistic missiles, or an early prototype.
Submarine-launched ballistic missiles were also among the military hardware on show for the first time.