U.S. detects what it says is failed North Korean missile launch

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A soldier walks under portraits of North Korea's founder Kim Il-sung (L) and former leader Kim Jong-il at Pyongyang's main square October 11, 2015. Isolated North Korea marked the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers' Party on Saturday with a massive military parade overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, who said his country was ready to fight any war waged by the United States.  REUTERS/Damir Sagolj - RTS3XF8

A soldier walks under portraits of North Korea’s founder Kim Il-sung (L) and former leader Kim Jong-il at Pyongyang’s main square October 11, 2015. Isolated North Korea marked the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers’ Party on Saturday with a massive military parade overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, who said his country was ready to fight any war waged by the United States. Photo by Damir Sagolj/Reuters

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military said Saturday it’s detected what’s being described as a failed missile launch by North Korea.

The launch occurred near the northwestern city of Kusong and the missile is presumed to be a Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile, according to a Defense Department statement.

The military says the launch was attempted at 11:33 p.m. EDT Friday (12:03 p.m. Saturday local time) and that the missile didn’t pose a threat to North America. The action brought harsh criticism from the U.S.

“We strongly condemn this and North Korea’s other recent missile tests, which violate U.N. Security Council Resolutions explicitly prohibiting North Korea’s launches using ballistic missile technology,” said Cmdr. Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman. He said the U.S. would raise concerns at the U.N.

“Our commitment to the defense of our allies, including the Republic of Korea and Japan, in the face of these threats, is ironclad.” Ross said. “We remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies from any attack or provocation.”

North Korea has claimed technical breakthroughs in its goal of developing a long-range nuclear missile capable of reaching the continental United States. South Korean defense officials have said the North doesn’t yet have such a weapon.

It’s the latest in a series of moves by North Korea aimed apparently at displaying a show of force. As recently as last month, it fired three ballistic missiles off its east coast, timed to get the attention of world leaders including President Barack Obama who were visiting the region for a series of summits. The U.N. Security Council subsequently condemned those North Korean launches and threatened “further significant measures” if it refused to stop its nuclear and missile tests.

North Korea also conducted its fifth nuclear test last month and in all has launched more than 20 ballistic missiles this year, part of its program aimed at improving the delivery system for nuclear weapons. Earlier this year, North Korea successfully launched a Musudan missile in June after several failed attempts.

Obama has vowed to work with the United Nations to tighten sanctions against North Korea, but has also said that the U.S. was still open to dialogue if the government changes course.

The U.S. strategy has largely centered on trying to get China, North Korea’s traditional ally, to use its influence to persuade the North to change course. North Korea is continuing missile test launches even as the United Nations Security Council is deliberating a further tightening of sanctions after the September nuclear test.

Previously in August, Japanese and South Korean officials said a medium-range ballistic missile flew about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) and landed near Japan’s territorial waters.

Associated Press writer Josh Lederman in Washington contributed to this report.

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