North Korean missile didn't fail after all - US

  • 27/08/2017
 People watch a television broadcast reporting the North Korean missile launch
People watch a television broadcast reporting the North Korean missile launch. Photo credit: Getty

North Korea has fired several missiles into the Sea of Japan, the US Pacific Command confirmed, saying in an update that the first and third missiles flew some 250 kilometres.

The command had said earlier that the first and third missiles, fired early on Saturday, had "failed in flight".

"As an update to our initial release, the first and third missiles... did not 'fail in flight'," the Pacific Command said.

"Rather, they flew approximately 250 kilometres in a northeastern direction."

In South Korea, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missiles were launched at 6:49am on Saturday (local time) and flew more than 250 kilometres northeast, the Yonhap news agency reported.

The South Korean National Security Council (NSC) said that they believed the missiles to be artillery rockets from a multiple-rocket launcher.

"As of now, the unidentified projectiles fired by the North today are presumed to be improved 300mm artillery rockets from a multiple-rocket launcher," Yonhap reported Yoon Young-chan, senior presidential secretary for public relations, as saying in a statement.

But US Pacific Command said that they believed the projectiles to be ballistic missiles.

The second missile "appears to have blown up almost immediately", the command said.

The missiles did not pose a threat to either North America or the US Pacific island territory of Guam, the Pacific Command said.

US President Donald Trump was briefed on the launch, the White House said.

The launch took place as the US and South Korea carry out 11 days of joint military exercises, known as Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG), and follows weeks of angry rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang.

Tensions between Pyongyang and Washington escalated this month, as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un threatened to fire missiles into waters near Guam and Trump threatened to rain "fire and fury" on North Korea.

This week, the US and Japan placed new sanctions on entities and individuals that support North Korea, in countries such as China and Russia.

The US also successfully lobbied the UN earlier this month for sanctions on North Korea that are expected to cut the reclusive nation's export revenues by a third.

Pyongyang launched its second intercontinental ballistic missile at the end of July and claimed all the US mainland was within its range.