DPRK's intermediate-range Musudan ballistic missiles. [File Photo: Agencies]
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Wednesday fired the sixth suspected Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile, the second in the day, which flew the longest distance of 400 km, nearing to a required distance to be successful.
An official at South Korea's defense ministry told Xinhua that what was believed to be a Musudan missile flew about 400 km after having been fired from the DPRK's Wonsan area in the east coast at about 8:05 a.m. local time.
The official said military authorities of South Korea and the United States are conducting detailed analysis on whether the test-launch was successful.
South Korea's military believed that a ballistic missile is required to fly at least 300 km to be considered successful in a test-firing, while South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that a ballistic missile should fly at least 500 km to be successful.
It marked the sixth test-launch of the Musudan missile, which is known to be capable of hitting party of the U.S. territory such as Guam and the outer reaches of Alaska. It allegedly has a range of 3,000 to 4,000 km.
Earlier in the day, the DPRK test-fired what was believed to be a Musudan missile near Wonsan area at about 5:58 a.m., the South Korean military official said on the phone.
Yonhap cited another military official as saying that the first missile of the day flew in an abnormal trajectory and in a distance short of what a normal ballistic missile can fly, indicating a failure of the fifth test-firing.
A South Korean government source was quoted as saying that the first suspected Musudan missile of the day flew about 150 km or more before being fragmented into several pieces during the flight.
Yonhap reported that top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un observed the test launches.
All of the previous test-firings of the Musudan missile are believed to have failed. The first test-launch on April 15 failed as it exploded in mid-air several seconds after take-off. The April 28 launch also failed as those exploded in mid-air or crashed in waters after lift-off. The fourth test was estimated to have blasted on its mobile launcher even before take-off, according to Seoul's military.
The test-launches were in line with top leader Kim's order on March 15 to test a nuclear warhead and ballistic rockets capable of carrying the warhead "in a short time."
Pyongyang has allegedly deployed the Musudan missiles since 2007. The ballistic missile is considered especially threatening as it is fired from a mobile launcher, making it hard to detect and track in times of military conflicts. It can also carry a nuclear warhead.
After the seventh ruling Workers' Party of Korea congress that lasted four days through May 9, the DPRK repeatedly made dialogue overtures toward South Korea to talk about military matters in order to defuse tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Seoul, however, had rejected the proposals as Pyongyang had yet to express its willingness to denuclearize. South Korea held fast to its position that no dialogue would be held with the DPRK unless Pyongyang shows its denuclearization will through sincere actions.