North Korea attempted to launch a new missile early Sunday, but the device "blew up almost immediately," the U.S. military said.
The Pentagon and South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said it wasn’t immediately clear what type of missile was involved. The failed launch came a day after tens of thousands of North Korean soldiers goose-stepped and new missiles and other military hardware were wheeled out in a show of military strength and defiance during a celebratory parade in the capital of Pyongyang.
President Trump had warned the isolated regime to avoid nuclear or missile tests or face unspecified consequences.
The parade marked the 105th anniversary of the birth of the regime's founder, Kim Il-Sung, a date celebrated as the “Day of the Sun” in North Korea. He is the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-Un, who was on hand to witness the spectacle.
North Korea has warned that it was prepared to strike back against the United States and South Korea as tensions rise on the Korean Peninsula. Last weekend, the U.S. sent aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to nearby waters as heated words ratcheted up.
"Our toughest counteraction against the U.S. and its vassal forces will be taken in such a merciless manner as not to allow the aggressors to survive," a spokesperson for North Korea’s military said ahead of the parade, according to the state-run KCNA news agency.
President Trump has also stirred the pot with his Twitter feed. On April 11, he tweeted that “North Korea is looking for trouble,” and said China’s help would be welcomed, but that the U.S. was prepared to solve the problem without Beijing, which has served a the North's economic lifeline.
North Korea’s vice foreign minister Han Song Ryol told The Associated Press on Friday that "Trump is always making provocations with his aggressive words.”
Ryol threatened in the interview that North Korea was ready to go war against the U.S. He also said the communist state would continue to develop its nuclear weapons program and conduct tests as its leadership saw fit. North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests since 2006.
"We've got a powerful nuclear deterrent already in our hands, and we certainly will not keep our arms crossed in the face of a U.S. pre-emptive strike," he said.
A live broadcast on North Korean state television Saturday showed Kim Jong-Un, 33, wearing a black suit and saluting as tanks, missiles and other hardware rolled through Kim Il-Sung Square.
Observers paid close attention to the missiles and launchers that were displayed during the colorful military spectacle. South Korean news agency Yonhap quoted experts as saying that North Korea unveiled a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) during the parade, one that appeared longer than existing KN-08 or KN-14 ICBMs. The secretive state also showed off a submarine-launched missile that it successfully fired last year.