In April, Pyongyang launched a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile that failed shortly after launch and ended up hitting the city of Tokchon, roughly two hours from the capital, The Diplomat reported on Wednesday.
The Diplomat noted that a failed launch might explain why North Korea used Sinpo, a seaside town, to conduct at least two test launches for the Hwasong-12 missile - an errant missile crashing into the sea would be less risky than one hitting a populated area.
The Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile was launched eastward from Pyongsong in North Korea's South Pyongan Province.
As per a U.S. government source, the first stage engines of the missile failed around a minute after the launch.
Satellite images show the likely site hit by the failed missile.
It failed to reach heights of 70km before it caused a large explosion, and it is not known if there was any loss of life.
These included "ground disturbances in an area that previously contained a building with fencing" and damage to a greenhouse on the complex.
"However, as the Google Earth imagery of the incident demonstrates, the Tokchon facility is located adjacent to what appear to be residential and commercial buildings".
As The Diplomat notes, this particular missile launch didn't get much attention in the United States press at the time because all we really knew about it was the fact that it failed.
Observers are also anxious that neighboring countries may regard it as an act of provocation or war should North Korean missiles and rockets veer off course and hit unintended foreign targets in South Korea, Japan or even China.
Since the earliest days of ballistic missiles by Nazi Germany in World War II, the most unsafe moments in missile tests and firing are the launch and immediate post-launch phases.
After all, it's North Korea, where the media is state-controlled.
North Korea used key components of the Hwasong-12 to develop the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Hwasong-14, successfully test-launched twice in July, and the Hwasong-15 in November, putting the whole of the USA mainland within the rocket's reach.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un discussing weapons in Pyongyang.
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