July 24, 2024
A still from a video released by South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff Friday appears to show a North Korean missile exploding in mid-flight. Screenshot: Republic of Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff video

1 of 2 | A still from a video released by South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff Friday appears to show a North Korean missile exploding in mid-flight. Screenshot: Republic of Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff video

SEOUL, June 28 (UPI) — South Korea’s military dismissed Pyongyang’s claim that it successfully launched a multiple-warhead missile, providing video evidence on Friday of a mid-air explosion.

Videos taken by frontline surveillance units showed the missile spiraling on an abnormal flight path before disintegrating.

“It is believed that this flight instability caused the missile to explode,” a South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff official said in a background briefing with reporters.

On Thursday, North Korea claimed that it had successfully conducted its first multiple-warhead missile test a day earlier.

The technology, known as multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles — or MIRV — is more difficult to defend against than traditional missiles. It was part of a five-year weapons wish list laid out by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a party congress in January 2021.

The test was “carried out by use of the first-stage engine of an intermediate-range solid-fuel ballistic missile,” state-run Korean Central News Agency claimed.

The JCS official said that images released in North Korean state media appeared to instead show an intercontinental ballistic missile similar in shape to the Hwasong-17, which was tested in March 2023.

After further analysis, both Seoul and Washington concluded the North’s claim of a successful test was “deception and exaggeration to cover up failure,” the official said.

“In the future, North Korea is expected to attempt to re-launch the missile that failed this time,” the official added. “Accordingly, our military is closely monitoring follow-up trends.”

The missile test came amid mounting international concerns over a mutual defense treaty signed by North Korea and Russia during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Pyongyang last week.

On Thursday, South Korea slapped independent sanctions on four Russian vessels and eight North Korean individuals for engaging in illicit weapons and fuel trade in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Also sanctioned were five entities, including North Korea’s Missile Administration, which was responsible for this week’s launch, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said in a press release.

South Korea’s Trade Ministry, meanwhile, said Friday it would add 243 new items to a list of banned exports to Russia and Belarus.

The items added have a “high possibility of military use, such as metal cutting and processing machines, machine tool parts, optical device parts and sensors,” the ministry said in a press release. Exporters can apply for approval from the government on a case-by-case basis.

South Korea has signaled in recent days that it may also consider sending lethal arms to Ukraine in the wake of the Russia-North Korea defense treaty. Last week, Putin warned that such a move would be a “very big mistake.”

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