April 22, 2016 09:39
Technicians were killed or injured and a mobile missile launcher was damaged when a North Korean medium-range ballistic missile blew up in mid-air on April 15, according to a U.S. website.
"Two road-mobile Musudan launchers were set up for the test, but the second was not fired after the explosion," the rightwing Washington Free Beacon reported Wednesday quoting a U.S. military officer and a diplomatic source. "The missile blew up about 300 feet above the ground."
The diplomatic source blamed the explosion, which occurred within five or six seconds after launch, on a faulty fuel system or turbo pump failure.
U.S. airborne and space-based surveillance systems closely monitored the missile test and "videotaped the explosion during the attempted launch from a beach on North Korea's east coast," the Free Beacon added.
This was the North's first attempt to test-fire the Musudan missile, which was deployed warfare-ready in 2007 and whose 3,000-4,000 km range makes it capable of striking U.S. strategic bomber bases on Guam.
The Musudan seems to be an indigenous variant of the old Soviet SS-N-6 submarine-launched ballistic missile, also known as the R-27, which the North obtained covertly from Russia in the 1990s, the website said.
"The North Koreans seemed to just believe it would succeed because the R-27 SLBM... was one of the most tested nuclear warhead delivery systems ever produced, and North Korea had already done a lot of ground tests," according to the source. "However, a real launching test is totally different from the ground test."
Meanwhile, analysis of satellite imagery shows continuous movement of vehicles, equipment, and personnel at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Hamgyong Province.
The website 38 North said the movement has been detected at the entrance to the North Portal, where the second through fourth nuclear tests were conducted since 2009. As seen in the last nuclear test, the North is capable of conducting a nuclear test without any dramatic signs of preparation and will probably conduct a fresh test soon, the website said.
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