North Korea conducted a test for what seemed to be an intermediate-range ballistic missile early Thursday, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing South Korean military officials. However, the test is believed to have failed, according to the officials.
South Korea's Yonhap said that the missile might have belonged to the Musudan model, a missile of which was tested by Pyongyang on April 15 as well. However, the earlier missile exploded a few seconds after it lifted off the country’s east coast. South Korean military officials said that the missile test-fired Thursday also crashed seconds after it was launched.
“The projectile, presumed to be a Musudan, was fired around 6:40 a.m. from the vicinity of [the North Korean east coast city of] Wonsan, but it appears to have plunged to the Earth a few seconds later,” an official told Yonhap. “It is highly likely that the launch failed. With that in mind, South Korea and the United States are conducting a detailed assessment.”
Thursday's alleged missile test comes at a time when North Korea is already facing strong sanctions from the United Nations Security Council over its fourth nuclear test in January and a rocket launch in February. The Kim Jong Un-led regime has also conducted several missile tests recently. The North Korean leader has called to strengthen the country's defense capabilities and produce more nuclear weapons, saying these were needed for self-defense.
Reports have said that the reclusive country may conduct a fifth nuclear test before a rare congress of its ruling party on May 6.
The international community, including North Korea's biggest ally China, has warned the North against nuclear advancements. Beijing has also said that it will fully adhere to the sanctions imposed against Pyongyang by the United Nations.