North Korea accidentally hit one of its own cities with a missile, landing in or near a city with a population of 200,000 people, MSN is reporting.
Kim Jong-un has been aggressively pursuing nuclear weapons in recent months in brazen defiance of international sanctions and has launched several unarmed missiles. Most missiles have fallen harmlessly in the Sea of Japan or the Pacific Ocean.
This week, however, U.S. officials confirmed that on April 28, 2017, the regime launched a missile that landed on North Korea’s own ground. The missile is believed to have been launched from a site about 40 miles north of the capital city of Pyongyang. The missile, a Hwasong-12/KN17 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), is believed to have traveled about 43 miles into the atmosphere before a catastrophic engine failure rendered it useless. Its intended target is not known, but the missile malfunctioned about a minute into its flight. It traveled about 25 miles before slamming into the ground.
Asian newspaper, The Diplomat, cross-referenced satellite and Google Earth imagery with the missile’s projected flight path and confirmed that it landed near the outskirts of the North Korean city of Tokchon, which has a population of about 200,000 people. Fortunately, the missile is believed to have landed in an agricultural and industrial area, damaging buildings in the process. As of this writing, the accident is not believed to have directly caused any deaths on the ground.
The @Diplomat_APAC reports: In April, a North Korea intermediate-range ballistic missile failed shortly after launch and crashed in the North Korean city of Tokchon, causing considerable damagehttps://t.co/puqylMT81v pic.twitter.com/F9H3VNgQXu
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) January 3, 2018
Further, according to the Asian newspaper, North Korean state media generally makes it a point to show images of dictator Kim Jong-un proudly posing near missiles after successful launches. The absence of any such photos dated around the time of the April launch is further evidence that it was a failure.
The launch failure demonstrates just how perilous tensions in the region can be. Had the missile landed in a populated city in Japan or South Korea, even if it was unarmed, it could have sparked a “serious crisis in Northeast Asia,” according to one U.S. official, if not an outright war or even nuclear war.
Meanwhile, NBC News tweeted on Tuesday that North Korea is planning another ballistic missile test launch in the coming days or weeks. Two unnamed U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, both confirmed that a launch is coming “soon.” One said that the launch could happen as soon as this week while another suggested a slightly longer timeline.