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Had the attempt succeeded, it would have been the 10th such launch from within North Korea this year.
The previous two launches, on February 26 and March 4, were intended to test a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system, the US Defence Department said last week.
South Korean and US intelligence authorities are continuing to analyse the details of Wednesday’s failed launch, South Korean officials said in a text sent to reporters.
In a statement last week, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby strongly condemned the recent spate of North Korean launches, describing them as a “brazen violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions”.
On Tuesday, the US military staged exercises on and around the Korean Peninsula to show its readiness in the wake of North Korean activity, including simulating ballistic missile defence systems.
The US Army’s 35th Air Defence Artillery Brigade moved to a remote location, “occupying its wartime defensive position, emplacing the Patriot missile system, and executing air and missile defence operations under a simulated combat scenario,” US Forces Korea said in a press release.
And at sea, F-35 and F/A-18 fighter jets flying off the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln along with US Air Force assets based in the region put on a show of force in the Yellow Sea off the western coast of South Korea, according to a statement from the US Navy’s 7th Fleet in Japan.
The statement also said the US has increased intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance activities in the Yellow Sea.
“We have made clear our growing concern over the significant increase in DPRK’s (North Korea’s) missile testing, and we will continue to take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the United States and our allies,” the statement from 7th Fleet spokesperson Lieutenant Nicholas Lingo said.