North Korea test-fired another Musudan medium-range missile on Thursday morning that failed directly after launch for the second time in a week.
The U.S. Strategic command detected the missile launch mere hours after America and South Korea agreed to a joint effort to counter North Korea’s military threats, South Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff told CNN.
“Our military strongly condemns North Korea for continuously conducting illegal provocative acts and are thoroughly prepared for any possibility of additional provocation.”
The missile was launched from the western city of Kusong, where a second failed missile launch occurred four days before. This makes eight North Korean attempts in seven months to launch a missile capable of reaching U.S. bases as far away as Guam.
The two recent failed missile tests were condemned by the United Nations, which is debating renewed sanctions against the hermit kingdom, U.S. Navy Commander Gary Ross told CNN.
“We strongly condemn this and North Korea’s other recent missile tests, which violate UN Security Council Resolutions explicitly prohibiting North Korea’s launches using ballistic missile technology.”
In June, the hermit kingdom launched a medium-range Musudan missile that successfully flew half the distance to Japan before crashing into the ocean. The missile is mobile and capable of being launched from the back of a trailer and has a range of anywhere between 1,500 and 2,500 miles.
The growing number of missile launches increases both the chance of failure and the amount of rocket launch data North Korean scientists can study, according to aerospace engineer John Schilling who runs the 38North website.
“If they continue at this rate, the Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile could enter operational service sometime next year – much sooner than had previously been expected.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has pledged to deploy the THAAD missile system, designed to shoot down ballistic missiles, to South Korea as soon as possible.
North Korea didn’t comment on the failed missile launch, but it did promise to continue launching satellites into space despite the South’s objections. Kim Jong-un has vowed to reach the moon and plant the North Korean flag on the lunar surface, but critics view the hermit kingdom’s space program as a way to disguise long-range missile tests.
North Korea remains technically at war with South Korea and their American allies since the Korean War ended with an armistice in 1953 instead of a peace treaty.
North Korea regularly threatens military actions and recently South Korea drew up plans to assassinate Kim Jong-un in case the hermit kingdom strikes first. The Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation plan was drawn up to allow South Korea to strike back without depending on U.S. military forces, which would be otherwise occupied in case of an attack.
The disclosure of the plan comes as military experts in South Korea are beginning to urge a first strike if there is evidence on an impending North Korean attack, South Korean Maj. Gen. Jang Kwang-hyun told UPI.
“In the case of an emergency deployment, special operations forces in an aerial mission depend a great deal on U.S. assets. In order to secure independent penetration capabilities, we are pursuing performance improvement by a deadline of the early 2020s.”
An Uthercast high-definition camera attached to the International Space Station captured amazing images of life in North Korea earlier this week; the footage shows very little traffic for a city the size of Pyongyang. The camera was launched into space in 2014, but Russian cosmonauts only recently finished installing it.
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[Featured Image by KRT/AP Images]