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(3rd LD) N. Korea botches fifth Musudan missile test-launch

All Headlines 08:04 June 22, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with defense ministry response in paras 12-13)

SEOUL, June 22 (Yonhap) -- North Korea launched what appeared to be a Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile from its east coast early Wednesday morning, but the launch again ended in failure, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

"The North launched one missile presumed to be Musudan from areas near Wonsan at around 5:58 a.m., but it is assumed to be unsuccessful," the JCS said in a brief release.

The latest launch failure marks the fifth in the North's back-to-back test launches of the mid-range Musudan.

On April 15, North Korea first test-fired the Musudan missile, which the country has deployed with its forces since 2007.

The first test and three following tests in April and May all exploded in midair or plunged soon after lift-off.

With an estimated range of some 3,000 to 4,000 kilometers, the Musudan missile could theoretically reach any target in Japan and strike as far away as the U.S. territory of Guam.

The fifth test on Wednesday came one day after the JCS said it was closely watching after detecting signs of North Korea's preparations for a missile launch.

The latest military provocation by North Korea is sure to further drive a wedge between the Koreas at a time when Pyongyang is unsuccessfully trying to engage Seoul in talks.

Since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un officially stated the need to hold military dialogue with South Korea during the country's rare party congress in early May, Pyongyang has made several offers for talks.

South Korea has, however, dismissed them as insincere gestures that have been accompanied by North Korea's continuing military provocations in defiance of the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Under a series of U.N. resolutions, North Korea is banned from nuclear and ballistic missile-related activities.

"North Korea has tried five launches of missiles presumed to be Musudan so far this year, but all of them were unsuccessful," South Korea's defense ministry said, following the botched test-fire earlier in the day,

"This is a clear violation of U.N. resolutions that prohibit any activities involving ballistic missile technology," the ministry said, denouncing the launch.

A day earlier, South Korea warned that action would be taken at the international level should the North launch another missile.

"This would further isolate the North from the international community, and in such an event, our government plans to take steps, including at the U.N. together with our allies," ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck said during a regular press briefing.


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