North Korea tries but fails to launch an intermediate-range missile on birthday of country's founder
South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported on Friday that North Korea attempted to launch a Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missiles, but the launch failed.
The Seoul-based agency reported on Thursday that the North has deployed one or two Musudan missiles in the east coast.
A South Korean Defence Ministry official confirmed the North's missile launch attempt early on Friday morning but the launch appeared to have failed. The official also could not confirm the type of the missile.
Friday is the anniversary of North Korean founding president Kim Il Sung's birthday, April 15, and is widely celebrated in the isolated country. In 2012, the day was marked by a long range rocket launch attempt, which also failed.
US confirms launch
The United States Defense Department spokesman said in a statement that the military detected and tracked what it has assessed was a failed North Korean missile launch.
According to North American Aerospace Defense Command, the missile did not pose a threat to North America, the statement said.
The spokesman could not give any details about the type of the missile.
A State Department official said that the department has seen the reports and is closely monitoring the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
"We call again on North Korea to refrain from actions and rhetoric that further raise tensions in the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its international commitments and obligations," the official said.
The Musudan missiles which also known as BM-25 has 3,000 km range.
On the other hand, US Northern commander Adm. William Gortney said on Thursday that the North's road-mobile KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile is believed to be capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental US.
"I assess that he has the ability to miniaturize a nuclear weapon and range the homeland with that warhead," he said.
Some experts said the North may choose to test-fire the Musudan in the near future as it tries to build an intercontinental ballistic missile designed to put the mainland United States within range.
US intelligence believes that North Korea's ability to reach the States is low, but its capabilities will increase, making continued investment in missile defence essential.
North Korea's leader Kim Jong un said on March that the country will test a nuclear warhead and ballistic missiles capable of carrying warheads.
Isolated North Korea and the rich, democratic South are still technically at war after the 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
North Korea accused South Korea on Tuesday of abducting its citizens in China, four days after South Korea said 13 workers at a restaurant run by the North had defected.