North Korea launched a projectile suspected to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Wednesday but failed. The South Korean and U.S. authorities caught signs of facility reorganization in Sunan soon after the failed test, which means the North may test launch again as early as this week. The South Korean and U.S. military authorities are preparing a high-level show of force targeting North Korea in response.
According to information gathered by The Dong-A Ilbo and the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s briefing, North Korea launched a ballistic missile from Sunan at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday but the missile blew up under an altitude of 20 kilometers. This was the country’s 10th missile provocation this year and the first after the South Korean presidential election. The South Korean and the U.S. authorities are currently analyzing data about the missile and believe that it was probably a new ICBM whose performance was tested on February 27 and March 5. It is possible that the Wednesday launch was intended for a real distance shooting.
A South Korean source said on Wednesday that North Korea’s movements to reorganize facilities and equipment were caught right after the failed test. However, it is unclear whether the movements were preparation for a new ICBM launch. “The North may not feel comfortable launching the same missile without proper complementation if it was a new ICBM that failed this time,” he said. “It may launch a different missile that has been verified already to reduce burden.”
While tensions escalate on the Korean Peninsula, the South Korean and U.S. authorities will resume a deployment exercise with strategic assets, including strategic bombers B-52 and B-1B that have been suspended for a while, in case of North Korea’s ICBM launch. Strategic bombers have not been deployed to the Korean Peninsula since 2017. The South Korean military also independently completed preparation for test launches of key missiles from the army, navy, and air force, such as ballistic missile ‘Hyunmoo,’ air-to-surface missiles of fighters F-15K and KF-16, and surface-to-air missiles of Aegis.
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