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North Korea missile test 'fails'

BBC News BBC News 15/04/2016
North Korea displays an intercontinental ballistic missile © AP North Korea displays an intercontinental ballistic missile

North Korea conducted a missile test off its east coast on Friday morning, but the launch appears to have failed, say US and South Korean officials.

Grey line © BBC Grey line

The launch coincided with the birthday of North Korea's founding leader, Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un.

The South's officials said it was not immediately clear what type of missile had been launched, nor its range.

The test comes amid particularly high tension on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea's missile programme

Is South Korea equipped to defend itself?

A world leader in dramatic rhetoric

How potent are the threats?

North Korea has made a series of threats against the South and the US since the UN imposed some of its toughest ever sanctions on the country.

The move was a response to the North's fourth nuclear test in January and its launching of a satellite in February, both of which broke existing sanctions.

Analysis: Stephen Evans, BBC News, Seoul

It's not known which missile North Korea used, but it had recently been seen moving two missiles known as Musudan with a range of about 3,000 km (1,800 miles).

That range extends to the US Army base on the Pacific island of Guam, but not as far as the mainland US.

The test illustrates the determination of Kim Jong-un to get the ability to strike the United States, but also the North's technological limitations.

The birthday of North Korea's founder is significant. Four years ago, the North tried to celebrate it with a similar missile launch, but that, too failed.

In March, North Korea said it had developed nuclear warheads small enough to fit on ballistic missiles.

However, experts cast doubt on the claims.

The US said it had tracked the latest launch, but could also not confirm details of the missile used.

"We call again on North Korea to refrain from actions and rhetoric that further raise tensions in the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its international commitments and obligations," a State Department official said.

North Korea's rocket launches

February 2016: Launch of rocket reportedly carrying satellite

May 2015: North Korea announces it has successfully tested a submarine-launched missile for the first time, but scepticism is then poured on the claim

Dec 2012: North Korea launches three-stage rocket, says it successfully put a satellite into orbit; US defence officials confirm object in orbit

Apr 2012: Three-stage rocket explodes just after take-off, falls into sea

Apr 2009: Three-stage rocket launched; North Korea says it was a success, US says it failed and fell into the sea

Jul 2006: North Korea test-fires a long-range Taepodong-2 missile; US said it failed shortly after take-off

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