A North Korean missile launch likely failed on Tuesday, according to South Korea's military, the latest in a string of high-profile failures that somewhat tempers recent worries that Pyongyang was pushing quickly toward its goal of a nuclear-tipped missile that can reach America's mainland. South Korea's Yonhap news agency reports that the missile was a powerful midrange Musudan, per the AP. If true, that would make it the fourth failed attempt by the North to conduct a test launch of the new missile, which could potentially reach faraway US military bases in Asia and the Pacific. Yonhap, citing an unidentified government source, says the missile exploded at a mobile launch pad as soon as the launch button was pressed. The report, if confirmed, suggests the missile may have even failed to lift off.
Seoul defense officials said they could not immediately confirm the report. The South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the North attempted to launch an unidentified missile early in the morning from the eastern coastal town of Wonsan, but that it likely failed. JCS officials said later Tuesday they were analyzing what happened but released no other details. Despite recent failures, there have been growing worries about North Korea's nuclear and missile activities this year, which included a nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch in February that outsiders saw as a test of banned long-range missile technology. The most recent launch follows Seoul's rejection of recent Pyongyang overtures to talk, part of what some analysts see as an attempt by the North to win concessions from its rivals. (Read more North Korea stories.)