North Korea’s missile launch has failed, South’s military says North Korea tried but failed to launch an intermediate-range missile Friday, American and South Korean military officials said, dealing the regime an embarrassing blow on the most important day of the year in the North Korean calendar. To mark the 104th anniversary of the birthday of the country’s “eternal president,” Kim Il Sung, North Korea launched a missile from its East Coast at about 5:30 a.m. local time. But it deviated from a “normal” trajectory, an official from South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters in Seoul. “North Korea appears to have tried a missile launch from the East Sea [Sea of Japan] area early morning today, but it is presumed to have failed,” the official said. But South Korea’s military is still on high alert. “We are preparing against the possibility that the North could carry out heavyweight provocations at any time, including the fifth nuclear test,” a military official said, according to the Yonhap News Agency. A U.S. defense official said that the U.S. Strategic Command systems had also “detected and tracked” the missile. “We assess that the launch failed,” he said. Initial analysis suggested that the missile was a Musudan, also known as a BM-25, the kind that South Korean authorities had detected being moved Thursday near Wonsan on North Korea’s east coast. The Musudan is an intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of traveling 1,500 to 2,500 miles — putting the U.S. territory of Guam within reach — and of carrying a 1.3-ton nuclear warhead, according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative.
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