North Korea tried a little more saber-rattling in its ongoing tantrum against the U.S. and UN on Friday, firing two medium-range ballistic missiles in Japan’s general direction. Unfortunately for the irate dictatorship, one of the missiles blew up in flight, making it a less impressive demonstration of military might.
Yonhap News quotes the Joint Chiefs of Staff reporting that one missile, evidently part of the Rodong class of weapons, was launched around 5:55 AM from Sukchon, in western North Korea, followed by a second launch 22 minutes later.
The first missile flew some 800 kilometers across North Korean territory, ultimately falling into the sea within the Japanese Air Defense Identification Zone. The second missile dropped off South Korean radar in mid-flight, leading officials to believe it exploded before reaching its target area.
A U.S. defense official confirmed to CNN that two missiles were tracked on Friday morning.
Yonhap notes officials believe the first missile was launched from a mobile platform. Rodong missiles launched from North Korean soil can theoretically hit all of South Korea and parts of Japan, and they could carry explosive or chemical warheads, but they’re not nuclear-capable under North Korea’s current technology level. The last time Pyongyang test-fired such a missile was in 2014.
Reuters reports the Chinese Foreign Ministry “urged North Korea to abide by U.N. resolutions and not do anything to exacerbate tensions” after learning of the missile launch, while the U.S. State Department “urged North Korea to focus on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its international commitments and obligations.”
South Korea, through its Unification Ministry, urged Pyongyang to “focus on improving the lives of its people” and warned that “provocative actions would help nothing.”
Japan’s response was, unsurprisingly, the most forceful, since they were the nominal targets of the missile demonstration.
“Japan strongly demands North Korea to exercise self-restraint and will take all necessary measures, such as warning and surveillance activity, to be able to respond to any situations,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a speech to his parliament, after lodging a formal protest with North Korea through its embassy in Beijing.