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North Korea's Test Launch of Musudan Missile Ends in Failure: South

North Korea tried but failed to test-launch a mid-range missile early Tuesday, South Korean defense officials said.
Image: North Korean ballistic missile launch fails - reports
A 2010 file photo from the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) showing a 'Musudan' missile displayed during a military parade in Pyongyang.KCNA / EPA

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea's test launch of a mid-range missile failed early Tuesday, South Korean defense officials said.

The intermediate-range Musudan missile exploded at a mobile launch pad as soon as the button was pressed, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported without citing a source.

South Korea's defense ministry confirmed it was aware of the failed launch and that more details would be released later.

"We presume that North Korea attempted and failed at launching a mid-range ballistic missile at 5:20 a.m. Seoul time [4.20 p.m. Monday ET],” a military official at the South Korea Ministry of National Defense told NBC News. "We are analyzing further details at this moment and we are totally ready with military preparedness for any provocation."

Tuesday's could be the latest in a string of failures that undermine North Korea's stated ambition of being able to target U.S. facilities in Asia and the Pacific.

A man in South Korea watches a local TV news report about Tuesday's failed missile launch by North Korea.Lee Jin-man / AP

If confirmed, the failed attempt would be North Korea's fourth unsuccessful try to test-launch a Musudan — which has a range of 1,200-2,400 miles and is theoretically capable of reaching bases on the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam. Three missiles test-launched in April exploded in mid-air or crashed, according to South Korean defense officials.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tokyo was aware of the latest launch report but declined to comment.

“We have not confirmed any incoming missiles nor any direct effect on our national security,” he told reporters.

Despite recent failures, there has been growing worries about North Korea's nuclear and missile activities this year, which includes 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 Associated Press contributed.