North Korea ballistic missile test fails

North Korea ballistic missile test fails
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A North Korea ballistic missile test apparently failed early Saturday when it exploded shortly after liftoff, U.S. and South Korean military officials said.

U.S. Pacific Command spokesman Cmdr. Dave Benham said the ballistic missile launched occurred near the Pukchang airfield in central North Korea. U.S. and South Korean military officials said the launch happened around 5:30 a.m. local time.

"The missile did not leave North Korean territory," Benham said in a statement, adding that the missile launch was not determined to have posed a threat to North America.

"It is estimated to have failed," South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

The South Korean military is analyzing the type of the missile and the distance it flew, Yonhap added.

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President Trump was briefed on the latest test, the White House said in a terse statement acknowledging the missile test.

The last North Korean missile launch, which happened earlier this month, ended in failure when the missile blew up almost immediately.

Reports say the latest missile was a KN-17, a single stage, liquid-fueled, mobile-launched missile that has a short to medium range. It’s the same type of missile Pyongyang tried to launch earlier this month that blew up almost immediately.

That test came during North Korea’s celebration of the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founder and was considered an embarrassment for leader Kim Jong Un.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have skyrocketed in recent weeks. The commander of U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Harry Harris, said earlier this week that it’s the “worst [he’s] seen.”

Satellite imagery has indicated North Korea is ready to conduct its sixth nuclear test, while U.S. officials have pushed Pyongyang to limit its nuclear and missile program amid the showdown.

Trump told Reuters on Thursday that a “major, major” conflict with North Korea is possible. A U.S. carrier strike group is also headed toward the Korean Peninsula, and a guided missile sub made a port visit in South Korea this week in a show of force.

A U.S. missile defense system deployed to South Korea is also set to be operational “very soon,” the Pentagon said Friday.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday also chaired a United Nations Security Council meeting on North Korea, where he warned that failure to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs could lead to “catastrophic consequences.”

Updated at 6:39 p.m.