A North Korean projectile exploded shortly after launch on Wednesday, Reuters reports, citing South Korea's military. The suspected missile would have been the Kim Jong Un regime's 10th launch this year.
The missile was launched from the international airport in Sunanm near the capital of Pyongyang, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.
"It is presumed that it failed immediately after launch," the statement said. JCS told Reuters the projectile was presumed to be a ballistic missile and exploded at a 12-mile altitude during its booster phase.
North Korea's past two launches, one on Feb. 26 and the other on Mar. 4, were conducted in the same area and were tests for a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the U.S. Defense Department said last week.
Last week, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby condemned the latest North Korean missile launches. He described them as a "brazen violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions."
What would've been the 10th launch comes as South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol takes a firmer stance on North Korea and rebuild Seoul's military alliance with the West.
The USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier conducted dense drills in the Yellow Sea ahead of the missile launch. South Korea has intensified military exercises on the Korean Peninsula to show readiness.
Earlier this month, Rachel Minyoung Lee, a non-resident fellow with the 38 North Program at the Stimson Center, said a confluence of "events -- the Ukrainian situation, South Korea's leadership transition period between now and the new president's inauguration in May, and the shifting global dynamics involving the U.S., Russia, and China -- make it extremely difficult to come up with and impose a coordinated response to North Korea, even if it were to resume intercontinental ballistic missile test-launches or nuclear tests.
"This lays the perfect ground for Pyongyang to test its new weapons and continue to make advancements in its nuclear and missile technology," Lee said further.
The latest missile tests could prepare North Korea to launch its largest ICBM weapon yet, the Hwasong-17, first unveiled at a military parade in 2020 and reappeared at a defense show in October 2021.