SEOUL/WASHINGTON North Korea test-fired what appeared to be two intermediate range ballistic missiles on Thursday, but both failed, the U.S. military said, in a setback for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ahead of next week’s ruling party congress.
The isolated nation has conducted a series of missile launches in violation of U.N. resolutions ahead of the Workers’ Party congress which begins on May 6. South Korea also says North is ready to conduct a new nuclear test at any time.
China said the U.N. Security Council was working on a response to North Korea’s latest missile tests, while U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Pyongyang to cease “further provocative actions.”
Thursday’s tests looked to have been hurried, according to a defense expert in Seoul, and follow a failed launch of a similar missile earlier this month.
The first launch, at about 6:40 a.m. local time (05:40 p.m. EDT Wednesday) from near the east coast city of Wonsan, appeared to have been of a Musudan missile with a range of more than 3,000 km (1,800 miles) which crashed within seconds, a South Korean defense ministry official said.
Later, at around 7:26 p.m., the North shot a similar intermediate range missile from the same area, but the launch was