North Korea spent much of 2017 touting the advancements made by its missile and nuclear weapons programs, much to the rest of the world’s chagrin. However, if a new report is accurate, North Korea had one of the biggest failures in its missile program in 2017 after one failed shortly after launch and crashed into a North Korean city.
According to The Diplomat, on April 28, 2017, the Korean People’s Army’s Air and Anti-Air Force launched a intermediate-range ballistic missile, the Hwasong-12, which crashed into the city of Tokchon, “causing considerable damage to a complex of industrial or agricultural buildings.”
According to a U.S. government source with knowledge of North Korea’s weapons programs who spoke to The Diplomat, the missile’s first stage engines failed after approximately one minute of powered flight, resulting in catastrophic failure. The missile never flew higher than approximately 70 kilometers. The location of the missile’s eventual impact was revealed exclusively to The Diplomat and evidence of the incident can be independently corroborated in commercially available satellite imagery from April and May 2017.
The concern over the launch failure comes after North Korea began using alternative sites for missile launches, including Pyongyang’s Sunan Airport, which could raise the potential for similar accidents occurring near higher population centers. Strangely, similar tests had previously been undertaken at a sea side town in order to prevent any wide-scale destruction if the missile failed (a crash into the sea being preferable to a city), but in early April, new testing sites were chosen.
Less than three weeks after the failed launch, North Korea successfully tested the Hwasong-12, which is believed to have led to successful tests of the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile later in the year.
(Via The Diplomat)