Pyongyang's attempt to launch two missiles has been unsuccessful, bringing the number of failed tests to three this week, South Korea says. The tests come shortly before a major North Korean party meeting next week.
A missile was fired from a North Korean coastal town on Thursday morning but crashed a few moments after takeoff. Another missile took off from Wonsan in the evening but was also unsuccessful, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
Seoul officials said they believed the North was trying to test a new intermediate-range missile called "Musudan." The projectiles have a potential range of about 3,500 kilometers (2,180 miles) and could endanger US military bases in Guam.
South Korea called the tests a provocation, although the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said the launches did not pose a threat to the US.
The reported failures came amid annual US-South Korea military drills, which end Saturday. The North fired several missiles during the exercise, which it saw as a threat to its sovereignty. It was also planning to hold its first nationwide party meeting in 36 years next week, where Leader Kim was expected to announce more steps to consolidate his power.
Security Council to discuss Pyongyang
The United Nations has forbidden North Korea from conducting any missile tests. On Thursday, US officials announced they had requested urgent talks with the UN Security Council to discuss further steps to curb Pyongyang.
Washington was also working to cut off remittances to North Korea by overseas workers. "We are working in various ways to cut off all the revenues going to the regime. For example, they have… overseas workers whose remittances are not going back to their families, but are going to the regime," Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the House of Representatives.
North Korean immigrants reportedly send as much as $900 million (xxx million euros) annually back to their country, according to the Korea Institute for National Unification.
The US was also trying to put pressure on North Korea by working with its allies, Japan and [South] Korea, Blinken added. His government was also working towards ensuring that North Korean officials would not be able to travel abroad and that the country's ships would not be able to dock or land other countries.
mg/jm (Reuters, AP)