Pyongyang has test-fired a ballistic missile that appears to have exploded within minutes after launch and never actually left North Korean airspace, according to the US Pacific Command and South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“North Korea fired an unidentified missile from a site in the vicinity of Bukchang in Pyeongannam-do (South Pyeongan Province) early this morning,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement, according to Yonhap.
“It is estimated to have failed,” the JCS said.
The US Pacific Command detected and tracked the missile launch from an area near the Pukchang airfield, but determined that the missile never posed any threat to the United States, as according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) it never left North Korean airspace.
The projectile, presumed to be a KN-17 medium range ballistic missile, appeared to have broken up and exploded “within minutes” of the launch, US officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Missile debris allegedly landed in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, according to a US official who spoke with CNN. An unnamed US official confirmed to NBC News that there was no indication that the test was nuclear.
The Pacific Command stressed that Washington “stands behind our steadfast commitment to the security of our allies in the Republic of Korea and Japan.”
The US administration is “aware of the most recent North Korean missile test,” and President Trump was briefed on the launch, the White House said in a short statement.
The reported launch comes amid rising tensions in the region and a US military buildup in response to the North Korean ‘nuclear threat.’