Defense chief condemns failed North Korea missile launch

Defense chief condemns failed North Korea missile launch
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Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Thursday condemned North Korea’s latest failed missile test and pledged the U.S. military will use its "full spectrum" of capabilities to defend South Korea and other allies.

"As with previous tests, we strongly condemn last night’s attempt, which even in failing violated several U.N. Security Council resolutions, and affirm that this latest provocation only strengthens our resolve to work together with our Republic of Korea allies to maintain stability on the peninsula," Carter said during a press conference with his South Korean counterpart.

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"Indeed, the United States remains committed to defending our allies against any threat with the full spectrum of American military might," he said.

Carter also referenced the United States' "extended deterrence capabilities," referring to the nuclear umbrella.

U.S. Strategic Command detected a failed North Korean missile launch Wednesday evening near the northwestern city of Kusong, the command said in a statement.

It was presumed to be a Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile, the second failed launch of a Musudan in less than a week.

Musudan missiles have a potential range of about 2,180 miles, which could put U.S. military bases in Guam within striking distance.

A leading U.S. expert said this week that North Korea’s aggressive testing schedule could make the missile operational next year.

“They are continuing with an aggressive test schedule that involves, at least this time, demonstrating new operational capabilities,” John Schilling, an aerospace engineer specializing in rocket propulsion, wrote Monday on the monitoring site 38 North.

"That increases the probability of individual tests failing, but it means they will learn more with each test even if it does result in failure," he wrote.

"If they continue at this rate, the Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile could enter operational service sometime next year —much sooner than had previously been expected."

During Thursday’s press conference, South Korean Minister of National Defense Han Min Koo said North Korea’s most recent test shows Pyongyang’s limitations.

"For political purposes, they’re conducting these Musudan launches, and through these failed tests, they’ve shown their limits," Han said. "I’ve personally assessed that Musudan launches will continue in the future."