WASHINGTON, April 15, 2017 – North Korea, celebrating the esteemed Grandfather of Kim Jon Un, has egg and kimchee on its face after a missile test turned into the equivalent of a dud M-80 on the Fourth of July: lots of anticipation of a loud bang that never came.
The missile was launched near the city of Singpo, following one of North Korea’s biggest propaganda events: the celebration the 105th birthday of the late North Korea founder Kim II. The North Korean military paraded its intercontinental ballistic missiles in an overblown military display in central Pyongyang.
The missile, when launched, “blew up almost immediately,” according to the U.S. Pacific Command.
“U.S. Pacific Command is fully committed to working closely with our allies in the Republic of Korea and in Japan to maintain security,” U.S. Pacific Command Cdr. Dave Benham said in a statement.
President Trump and Vice President Pence were briefed on the launch; Pence is en route to Seoul, South Korea to kick off an Asian tour.
“The president and his military team are aware of North Korea’s most recent unsuccessful missile launch. The president has no further comment,” Defense Secretary Mattis said.
The missile failure comes a day after North Korea paraded its intercontinental ballistic missiles in a massive military display in central Pyongyang.
Pyongyang is angry over Trump’s deployment of a strike team, led by the USS Carl Vinson, to the waters outside the Korean Peninsula as well as the largest-ever war games between the U.S. and South Korea .
Friday, U.S. officials said administration advisors offered a range of ideas for how to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. Officials told the Associated Press that the administration had settled on a policy that will “emphasize increasing pressure on Pyongyang with the help of China, North Korea’s only major ally, instead of military options or trying to overthrow Kim’s regime.”
The United States, South Korea, and other countries have vowed to apply more pressure on the North, but so far nothing has stopped Pyongyang’s nuclear program. North Korea claims to have “standardized” its warheads, leading to worries that it is making headway in its push to develop small and sophisticated warheads to be top long-range missiles.
North Korea has spent decades trying to develop operational nuclear weapons, and it is believed that Pyongyang possesses a small arsenal of fission (atomic) bombs and an array of short- and medium-range missiles. But it has yet to demonstrate that it can produce nuclear warheads small enough to place on a missile, or that they have missiles that can reliably deliver warheads to faraway targets. Pyongyang’s claims to have tested a thermonuclear device, which would be hundreds of times more powerful than a fission bomb, are widely doubted, but they continue determined efforts in that direction.