North Korea Fails Medium-Range Missile Test Again

BEIJING, China - Photo shows what appear to be North Korea's ''Musudan'' intermediate-range ballistic missiles at a military parade in Pyongyang on Oct. 10, 2010, the 65th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told journalists in Beijing on Jan. 11, …
Kyodo via AP Images

North Korea made another attempt to launch a mid-range missile on Thursday and, like the previous effort a few weeks ago, the missile appears to have crashed shortly after takeoff.

Thursday’s launch was another Musudan-class, medium-range ballistic missile, a weapon that would theoretically be capable of hitting the U.S. bases on Guam, if the North Koreans could ever get it to work.

“North Korea tried to launch a missile believed to be a Musudan from an area near Wonsan at about 6:40 a.m. The launch is presumed to have failed as the missile fell into the sea a few seconds after liftoff,” said a South Korean military official, as quoted by the Korea Times.

The U.S. Strategic Command issued a statement that its systems detected and tracked the launch, determining that it was not a threat to American territory, according to CNN.

“This is humiliating for North Korea because it already failed to launch the same kind of missile on April 15, the 104th anniversary of the birth of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung — the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un,” wrote the Korea Times.

CBS News suggests Pyongyang’s embarrassment will be multiplied by the close proximity of the ruling party congress set to begin next week, “which leader Kim Jong Un is believed to be looking to as a way to put his stamp more forcefully on a government he inherited after his dictator father’s death in late 2011.”

Kim was, no doubt, hoping he would have successful ICBM tests to boast about at the party congress. Reuters cites South Korean defense experts who say the Musudan launch appears to have been “hurried,” presumably with an eye toward the big event in Pyongyang next week. (The Reuters report also says there were two missile launch attempts on Thursday, and both of them failed.)

It must also be a vexing development for the North Korean military, as the Korea Times notes Musudan missiles have been deployed in the field since 2007, evidently without adequately testing them.

CNN notes these medium-range missile tests in North Korea have become an item of interest for the United Nations Security Council. Another illegal nuclear bomb test may be forthcoming, before the party congress begins.