On Saturday local time, North Korea conducted another ballistic missile test. According to South Korean and US officials, the test failed, with the missile exploding in midair within seconds of the launch. The weapon was said to be short-range, having the potential to reach Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, but not Japan.
As reported by NBC News, officials from the US Pacific Command stated the launch occurred at 5:33 a.m. Saturday Seoul time, with the missile originating near Pukchang airfield. The weapon did not exit North Korean territory before exploding.
A South Korean military official described the launch as “unsuccessful” due to the midair explosion. He went on to state that South Korea is “totally ready to meet any and all kinds of provocation,” referring to the rising tensions in the region and actions on the part of North Korea.
Responding to the test-fire, President Donald Trump said via Twitter, “North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!”
The missile test occurred one day after Trump, speaking with Reuters, said that the US and North Korea were potentially headed toward a “major, major conflict.” The launch was also only hours after Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, spoke to the UN Security Council, calling on the rest of the world to assist in forcing North Korea to cease its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
It also comes shortly after South Korea finished the installation of key part of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, to defend against North Korean missiles. The US missile defense system has been a point of contention in the region and is said to contribute to the rising tension.
North Korea is currently barred from conducting ballistic missile tests by the United Nations but has held several such launches this year.
On April 15, a missile was launched that reported failed “almost immediately” according to South Korean and US officials. North Korea has also performed five nuclear tests since 2006, with two occurring in 2016. The country has issued warnings that it is prepared to test-fire and intercontinental ballistic missile, though such a launch has yet to happen.
Additional UN sanctions on North Korea include a ban on selling arms or fuel, as well as a range of potential weapons-making items, to the country. Certain luxury goods are also on the banned list.
The US has stricter sanctions against North Korea, going beyond those called for by the UN, which bans all trade with the nation. Additionally, the US maintains a blacklist of anyone doing business with North Korea.