NORTH KOREAN MISSILE LAUNCH FAILS, AND SHOW OF STRENGTH FIZZLES /1

With the kind of fanfare that only a totalitarian state can muster, North Korea on Saturday flaunted missiles that can theoretically reach the United States and defiantly stated that it was prepared to counter any U.S. attack with “a nuclear war of our own.” But it soon looked like a case of style over substance. North Korea somewhat ruined the impression created with the parade, which took place on the most important day of the year for Kim Jong Un’s regime, with a failed missile launch Sunday morning.

The ballistic missile was fired from the Sinpo area on the east coast shortly before 6 a.m. local time, U.S. Pacific Command said. It blew up almost immediately, complicating efforts to identify the missile’s size and range.

North Korea fired a land-based version of its medium-range, submarine-launched ballistic missile from the same area earlier this month. That exercise also failed.

The missile was fired as Vice President Mike Pence took off from Alaska on his way to Seoul, where he is expected to issue a strong warning to North Korea to stop its provocative behavior or face consequences, reported the Washington Post.

“We weren’t surprised by it, we were anticipating it,” a White House foreign policy adviser told reporters traveling with Pence. “It wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when. The good news is that after five seconds it fizzled out.” As a result, the U.S. doesn’t need “to expend any resources against that,” he said.

The missile was launched into the sea off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula, where a U.S. Navy strike group is patrolling. Military commanders ordered the group, led by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, to the area this month as tensions with North Korea mounted.

The group has the ability to shoot down incoming missiles and launch missiles of its own.

Although the missile in Sunday’s attempt like others before it exploded shortly after launch, experts warn that North Korea’s rocket scientists learn something from failures as well as successes, giving them information they can use to hone their technology.

Certainly, the military hardware paraded through Pyongyang on Saturday shows that Kim is unrelenting in his quest to develop a missile capable of reaching the United States.

Experts were stunned at the sheer number of new missiles on display during the parade including, apparently, a new and previously unknown type of intercontinental ballistic missile.

“It’s not like not doing a nuclear test was good news this is all part of the same program,” said Jeffrey Lewis, head of the East Asia program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California. North Korea has claimed to be able to make nuclear weapons small enough to be able to fit on a missile.

“It’s like they’re saying: ‘Hey, here’s some other bad news,’ ” Lewis said.(END)

Source: Qatar News Agency

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