North Korean test missile explodes on launch

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A TV screen shows file footage of North Korea's ballistic missiles, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul on Sunday.

The launch comes as tensions between the US and North Korea have escalated and a day after the country celebrated the 105th birthday of Kim Il-Sung, who founded the country.

It nevertheless has carried out five nuclear tests -- two of them previous year -- and multiple missile launches, one of which saw several rockets land in waters provocatively close to Japan last month.

"The missile blew up nearly immediately", Commander Benham said.

South Korea's official Yonhap News Agency said Seoul's national security chief would convene the National Security Council later Sunday to assess the situation.

The latest incident also comes at a time of increased tensions between North Korea and the U.S. in recent weeks, raising fears of a potential military confrontation between the two sides. However, this latest news comes in the midst of escalating tensions between North and South Korea, and thus between North Korea the United States, the South's key geopolitical ally.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula has reached worrying heights amid concerns, fueled by media reports, that Pyongyang might be preparing new nuclear and ballistic missile tests - and that the USA might decide to act unilaterally and conduct a pre-emptive or retaliatory strikes, just as it did against Syria on April 7.

"We are ready to hit back with nuclear attacks of our own style against any nuclear attacks", he said.

North Korea has attempted to fire a missile but the launch was a failure with the enormous weapon blowing up nearly immediately after it was set off. His visit comes just after a failed missile launch by the North.

North Korean leader Kim declared in a speech on New Year's Day that his country's program to build intercontinental ballistic missiles had "reached its final stage".

President Donald Trump has taken a strong position against Pyongyang, tweeting that the country was "looking for trouble" and that the US would take action against its aggression.

Sunday's attempt was the latest wrinkle in mounting tension between the USA and North Korea.

North Korea has spent decades trying to develop operational nuclear weapons.

"It's not like not doing a nuclear test was good news - this is all part of the same program", said Jeffrey Lewis, head of the East Asia program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California. "The president has no further comment".

The parade, the annual highlight of North Korea's most important holiday, came amid growing worldwide worries that North Korea may be preparing for its sixth nuclear test or a major missile launch, such as its first flight test of an ICBM capable of reaching USA shores.

Impoverished North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

Some kind of launch by North Korea was highly anticipated as it celebrated the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founder on Saturday. The U.S. presently has a carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson operating in waters near the Korean peninsula.

The North launched a ballistic missile from the same region earlier this month ahead of a summit between the leaders of the USA and China to discuss the North's arms programme. That launch came shortly before Trump's first meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

There has been no confirmation as yet of the launch attempt from North Korea, according to CNN. He is widely expected to discuss ways to curtail North Korea's strengthening missile and nuclear programmes.

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