Two suspected powerful new midrange ballistic missiles were fired by North Korea on Tuesday. While the South Korea’s defence ministry said both are achieving a significant increase in flight distance over previous failed launches with at least one launch ending in failure, the U.S. officials claimed that both failed over the Sea of Japan. The first test was conducted shortly before 6:00 am (2100 GMT Tuesday) failed after reportedly flying around 150 kilometres (90 miles) over the East Sea (Sea of Japan). But the second Musudan was fired from the same east coast location two hours later, and it had flown 400 kilometres. It is one of the significant achievements of North Korea after four failed Musudan tests this year, where all either exploded on the mobile launch pad shortly after take-off. The last three failed launches in April were seen as an embarrassment for North Korea’s leadership. Another attempt in May was also deemed to have failed; that added more embarrassment to the nation’s head. Before April North Korea had never flight-tested a Musudan missile, although one was displayed during a military parade in 2010 in Pyongyang, which is its capital.

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US State Department spokesman John Kirby reacted on the latest launches that would only increase global efforts to counter North Korea’s illicit weapons programme. He further added: We strongly condemn these and North Korea’s other recent missile tests, which violate UN Security Council Resolutions explicitly prohibiting North Korea’s launches using ballistic missile technology”.  He also added these provocations only serve to increase the international community’s resolve to counter the DPRK’s prohibited activities that include implementing existing UN Security Council sanctions.

It was first unveiled as an indigenous missile at a military parade in Pyongyang in October 2010. The Musudan has a general range of anywhere between 2,500 and 4,000 kilometres. North Korea has claimed a series of technical breakthroughs in developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to target across the continental United States.

North Korea has claimed a series of technical breakthroughs in developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to targets across the continental United States. Melissa Hanham, who is an expert on North Korea’s WMD programme at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California, said Wednesday’s launches have represented’ a worrying step forward’. He says it is progress if not a success. Testing is a repetitive process, and they are learning from each flight and according to him, policymakers need to focus on a testing ban to prevent this from becoming a working missile.

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