WASHINGTON: The US military said Saturday it had detected an unsuccessful launch by North Korea of a powerful medium-range missile capable of hitting US bases as far away as Guam.
This failed test came as the UN, which had previously prohibited North Korea from using ballistic missile technology, is debating at Security Council fresh sanctions following Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test in September.
The US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) said the launch, detected just after midday Saturday Korea time, was believed to be of a much-hyped Musudan missile that North Korea has now test-fired seven times — with one partial success.
Seoul’s defense ministry also confirmed the failed launch, held near an air base in the northwestern city of Kusong in North Korea at 1203 Pyongyang time (0333 GMT).
Such launches are usually reported within hours or even minutes by the South Korean and US militaries, but Seoul’s defense ministry refused to say why the announcement came so long after the event.
First unveiled as an indigenous missile at a military parade in Pyongyang in October 2010, the Musudan has a theoretical range of anywhere between 2,500 and 4,000 kilometers. The lower estimate covers the whole of South Korea and Japan, while the upper range would include US military bases on Guam.