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Kim Jong-un’s regime suffers dangerous missile launch failure.

Kim Jong-un’s regime has suffered a dangerous missile launch failure with debris crashing into Pyongyang, days after the Biden administration warned North Korea against exploiting the Ukraine war to challenge the US.

South Korea’s military confirmed a missile was fired from Sunan airport, near the North Korean capital, and exploded before reaching an altitude of 20km.

North Korea attempted the launch despite recent White House efforts to warn America’s traditional rivals over using Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an opportunity to test the US.

The latest missile test has also reinforced expectations among military analysts that the Kim regime might be gearing up for its first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile or nuclear warhead since 2017.

The growing North Korean military threat highlights the foreign policy challenges faced by Yoon Suk-yeol, South Korea’s conservative president-elect, who has vowed to take a hard line against the nuclear-armed dictator.

“Pyongyang seems to have judged that the current confrontation between the US and Russia over Ukraine offers the best chance for its new ICBM test without worrying about tougher sanctions while Yoon can’t take any meaningful action against it until his inauguration,” said Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at the Sejong Institute, a Seoul think tank.

Mr Cheong added that Mr Kim would also take advantage of deteriorating US-Russia relations, suggesting that Moscow was unlikely to agree to further US sanctions against North Korea even if an ICBM was launched at full range or another nuclear test was conducted – both of which would mark serious violations of UN rules.

NK News, a Seoul-based North Korea information service, reported that projectile debris fell in or near Pyongyang after the failed test, citing multiple witnesses and a picture of reddish smoke at the rocket launch trail above the city.

The mishap appeared to be North Korea’s worst missile failure since August 2017, and highlighted the hazards faced by North Korea’s neighbours from Mr Kim’s missile testing campaigns.

The failed test was conducted after the US warned of a “serious escalation” in North Korea’s military capabilities, after the communist state used the airport for two missile launches in the past few weeks.

The US military’s Indo-Pacific Command said on Wednesday that the latest test was a ballistic missile launch and urged Pyongyang to refrain from further provocation.

Mr Yoon, a former prosecutor with no foreign policy experience who takes office in May, did not immediately comment. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2022

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