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Country Risk

Another North Korean IRBM launch fails

21 October 2016
North Korea conducted two unsuccessful launches of what appeared to be Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missiles (similar to this one) within five days of each other in mid-October. Source: Via Rodong Sinmun/Twitter

North Korea conducted another unsuccessful launch of what appeared to be a Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) on 20 October, according to US, Japanese, and South Korean officials.

"US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) systems detected what we assess was a failed North Korean missile launch" at 0700 h local time on 20 October near the country's northwestern city of Kusong, North Pyongan Province, said the command in a statement.

Kusong is near North Korea's Sohae Satellite Launch Station, also known as the Tongchang-ri Missile and Space Launch Facility: a ballistic missile and space vehicle launch site.

South Korea's joint chiefs of staff condemned North Korea's "continued illegal acts of provocation", according to Reuters news agency.

Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, also condemned the launch. He was quoted by Kyodo news agency as saying that North Korea's repeated missile launches are a "severe security threat compromising the peace and security of our region and the international community, and simply cannot be allowed".

Tokyo also lodged a protest with North Korea through its embassy in Beijing.

The failed missile launch marks the eighth time this year that Pyongyang has tested its mobile-launched Musudan IRBM and follows a similar failed attempt to launch the model on 15 October.

Of the eight attempts, a Musudan fired off on 22 June flew some 400 km and reached an altitude of over 1,000 km in what appeared to mark an improvement in the North's IRBM programme.

The latest launch also came shortly after South Korea and the US agreed to step up military and diplomatic co-operation to counter the North's growing military threats.

Yonhap news agency reported that the two countries agreed to launch a vice-minister-level dialogue to carry out the United States' extended deterrence protection of its key Asian allies from evolving nuclear and missile threats from Pyongyang.

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