U.S. Detects Failed North Korean Missile Test

The U.S. military has detected a failed North Korean launch of a Musudan Intermediate missile, the seventh test this year of the mobile-launched missile.

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A U.S. official said the missile never achieved flight. It is the latest provocation from North Korea, which seems undeterred in its pursuit of a ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs despite international condemnation.

"U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) systems detected what we assess was a failed North Korean missile launch at 10:33 p.m. CDT, October 14, 2016, near the northwestern city of Kusong," said a statement issued by U.S. Strategic Command.

"The missile is presumed to be a Musadan intermediate-range ballistic missile," continued the statement. "The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America."

A U.S. official said the Musudan missile exploded immediately after launch.

The failed missile test marks the seventh time this year that North Korea has tested its Musudan missile, which has drawn concern from American officials because as a mobile-launched system it can be hard to detect and can be fired on short notice.

Though displayed in military parades in recent years, the missile had never been test-fired until March this year. Two more launches followed in late April, another in late May and two more in mid-June.

The first five launch attempts failed, before a successful launch was achieved on the sixth attempt in June. That missile test drew concern because it traveled 250 miles before falling into the Sea of Japan.

U.S. officials said that successful launch indicated the North Koreans were learning from each failed launch to make technical adjustments.

The Musudan test Saturday is the latest provocation from North Korea, which has conducted multiple nuclear tests and ballistic missile tests this year, seemingly unfazed by international sanctions that prohibit their development of those programs.

The nuclear tests in January and September marked the first time that North Korea has tested two nuclear devices in one calendar year. It also shows probable progress in North Korea's stated goal of developing a miniaturized nuclear warhead that could be placed atop a ballistic missile.

With an explosive yield comparable to 10 tons of TNT, the test in September appeared to be the largest of the five conducted by North Korea since its first test in 2006.

The nuclear test in January was followed by a long-range missile launch in February that successfully placed a satellite in orbit.

Satellite imagery recently posted by the blog 38North There showed indications in that North Korea was preparing for another missile test. Additional satellite imagery of North Korea's nuclear test site shows new activity that could indicate that North Korea is planning for even more nuclear testing.

Following each of the nuclear tests the United States conducted flyovers of its long-range bombers over a military air base outside of Seoul to demonstrate its commitment to the defense of South Korea. B-2 stealth bombers flew after the January test and B-1 bombers flew low over Osan Air Base in September.

Earlier this week U.S. Strategic Command's Admiral Cecil Haney hosted General Lee Sun-Jin, South Korea's chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at Stratcom headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

"The United States is committed to our alliance with the Republic of Korea," Haney said. "It's a very important alliance for us and we want to have peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and the region."

Lee echoed Haney's comments and said that with his visit, "we have confirmed that the United States extended deterrence capability and resolve against North Korea nuclear and missile threat is rock solid."