|A photograph of a missile launch released by North Korea in February (Source)|
As most of you know, North Korea undertook another ballistic missile test this past weekend, which exploded several minutes after takeoff over North Korean territory. News outlets reported that the test was failure, such as in this story from the UPI which related:
North Korea launched a projectile on Saturday but the test ended in failure, according to the U.S. Pacific Command.
"U.S. Pacific Command detected what we assess was a North Korea missile launch at 10:33 a.m. Hawaii time April 28," the statement read. "The ballistic missile launch occurred near the Pukchang airfield."
The message added the missile "did not leave North Korean territory."What should be noted is that the Pacific Command's official statement did not say that there had been a failure, but that information came from anonymous sources which "said the missile was probably a medium-range weapon known as a KN-17 and appears to have broken up within minutes of taking off."
The Korea Times reports, however, that the explosion of the missile was deliberate on the part of the North Koreans. From the article:
The mid-air explosion of a North Korean missile on Saturday morning was deliberate, not a failed launch as claimed, South Korean government officials say.
It is believed the North was testing a warhead explosion, an essential step toward testing a nuclear warhead explosion.
"We don't believe the mid-air explosion was an accident," cable news channel YTN quoted a government official as saying. "It's believed the explosion was a test to develop a nuclear weapon different from existing ones."
The nuclear-armed isolated country fired a ballistic missile on Saturday morning from near Pukchang in Pyeongannam-do (South Pyeongan Province).
The missile climbed to 71 kilometers before exploding within North Korean territory, according to the South Korean and U.S. defense ministries.
The explosion happened two or three minutes after blast-off.
Military experts say mid- or long-range missiles normally stabilize at 20 or 30 kilometers above ground. In the latest test, the missile climbed to three times the so-called "stabilizing height, which means the chances that any internal mechanical failure caused the explosion were "very low," according to experts.North Korea has also announced an imminent nuclear warhead test. And China appears to be ginning up for a flood of refugees, desperately seeking Chinese-Korean translators for a town on the border between the two nations.