16 March 2022
A North Korean missile launched from an area near the capital reportedly exploded soon after liftoff Wednesday, South Korea's military said. The South Korean military said the incident appeared to be a failed missile test.
The launch comes as some experts predict that the North is preparing to test a powerful weapon in its greatest provocation in years.
The United States and South Korea have warned that North Korea may be preparing to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) over a long distance. That would be the biggest test since 2017. Such a test would also violate United Nations Security Council resolutions placing limits on North Korea's missile program.
Details of the missile explosion and the possibility of civilian damage were not immediately known.
It is the 10th launch of its kind this year as North Korea continues to modernize its arsenal. Experts say the country is trying to pressure other nations into making concessions while denuclearization talks are frozen.
The missile blew up when it was less than 20 kilometers above the earth, an unidentified South Korean military official said. The cause of the explosion is not known, the official added.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff earlier said the launch came from the Sunan area near Pyongyang, the North's capital, around 0030 UTC, but gave no other details.
Lee Choon Geun is with South Korea's Science and Technology Policy Institute. He said the missile likely exploded less than a minute after its launch. He said if the missile's toxic fuel fell on civilian areas in North Korea, then it would likely cause major health problems. So far, there are no outside reports of such damage in North Korea.
The failed test showed the danger of North Korea's decision to launch from an airport close to a populated area, experts said.
North Korea's newest and largest ICBM system, the Hwasong-17, was first shown at a military parade in 2020.
North Korea has not tested an ICBM or nuclear bomb since 2017 but has said that it could start testing again because denuclearization talks with the United States have stopped.
The North Korean missile activity has caused increased training among South Korea and U.S. forces in East Asia.
The USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier recently led military exercises in the Yellow Sea. And air defense artillery at Osan air base in South Korea increased training measures, U.S. forces in Asia said.
I'm Susan Shand.
The Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English.
Words in This Story
provocation –n. an action or occurrence that causes someone to become angry or to begin to do something
arsenal –n. a collection of weapons
concession –n. something that you allow or do to end a conflict or reach an agreement
toxic –adj. containing poisonous substances
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