North Korea suspected missile fails after launch, says South Korea

North Korea fired an “unknown projectile” on Wednesday that appeared to fail immediately after launch, South Korea’s military said after Japanese media reported a suspected missile launch.

The suspected missile was fired from an airfield outside the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, South Korea’s defence ministry said.

The airfield has been the site of several recent launches, including two that the US and South Korea said were tests of a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system. North Korea said those tests were for developing components of a reconnaissance satellite.

North Korea has fired missiles at an unprecedented frequency this year, conducting its ninth weapons test on 5 March and drawing condemnation from the United States, South Korea and Japan.

In the two recent launches, the North Korean missiles flew medium-range distances, and experts have said North Korea could eventually perform a full-range ICBM test.

North Korea has said it tested cameras and other systems for a spy satellite and released what it said were photos taken from space during those tests, but it didn’t confirm what rocket or missile it launched.

Experts say North Korea aims to boost its ICBM capability while trying to place its first spy satellite into orbit. The North Korean ruler, Kim Jong-un, has vowed to acquire an improved ICBM and a spy satellite among an array of sophisticated weapons systems he says he needs to cope with what he calls American hostility.

North Korea also appears to be restoring some tunnels at its shuttered nuclear test site, US and South Korean officials have said.

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