A South Korean ballistic missile malfunctioned during takeoff and fell back to the ground in a massive explosion on Wednesday.
The South Korean military decided to conduct multiple ballistic missile tests on Wednesday in response to a North Korean missile launch on Tuesday. The South Korean Yonhap News Agency reported South Korean and U.S. forces together launched four MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) tactical ballistic missiles into the ocean off their east coast.
Yonhap reported the South Korean military then attempted to launch an additional Hyunmoo-2C ballistic missile from Gangneung Airbase near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates North and South Korea. The missile fell inside the confined of the South Korean base and exploded.
A video taken near the South Korean airbase early on Wednesday morning (local time) captured what appeared to be one successful missile launch, followed by a loud blast.
A South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff official who spoke to Yonhap on condition of anonymity, as is customary, told the news agency that the explosion was the result of the missile’s propellent burning. The official said the warhead for the missile did not explode, but it was found around a kilometer (about .62 miles) backward from the launch point and just 700 (about .4 miles) meters away from the nearest civilian home.
Another video showed a massive fireball.
In a Wednesday press statement, White House National Security Council (NSC) spokesperson Adrienne Watson condemned North Korea’s missile launch from earlier in the week.
The United States strongly condemns the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) dangerous and reckless decision to launch a long-range ballistic missile over Japan. This action is destabilizing and shows the DPRK’s blatant disregard for United Nations Security Council resolutions and international safety norms. Tonight, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with his Japanese and Republic of Korea (ROK) counterparts, Secretary General Akiba Takeo of the National Security Secretariat of Japan and National Security Office Director Kim Sung-han of the ROK. In both calls, the National Security Advisors consulted on appropriate and robust joint and international responses and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan reinforced the United States’ ironclad commitments to the defense of Japan and the ROK. The United States will continue its efforts to limit the DPRK’s ability to advance its prohibited ballistic missile and weapons of mass destruction programs, including with allies and UN partners.