Ballistic missile launched by North Korea last year may have accidentally crashed on its own city


A ballistic missile launched by North Korea last year failed in flight and crashed back to the ground, it has been reported. However, what makes it surprising is the revelation that it may have landed in one of its own cities, the city of Tokchon, about 100 kilometres northeast of Pyongyang.

A report in The Diplomat has quoted a US government source with “knowledge of North Korea’s weapons programme” as saying the missile, which was launched on 28 April 2017, failed after just a minute of powered flight, during which time it traveled less than 70 kilometres into the North Korean sky. It crashed into Tokchon, on a large field of commercial or argicultural buildings, the report said.

While there were no confirmed reports of there being any casualties in the crash, The Diplomat has corroborated its claim with commercially available satellite imagery from April and May 2017. These images show “considerable damage to a complex of industrial or agricultural buildings”.

The failed missile launch was reported by the western media but the fact that it may have crash landed on North Korean territory went unreported.

The report on The Diplomat further added that chances of failure were high, and that may have been the reason why Pyongyang chose the sea-side town of Sinpo as its initial test site rather than Pyongyang. Flight failure over the sea would have had a lower chance of striking human infrastructure. However, since April, North Korea hasn’t held ballistic missile testing from Sinpo, it said.

Tense times

April 2017 was a tense time on the Korean peninsula. US president Donald Trump had said North Korea is “doing the wrong thing”, and that he would be sending an armada to Pyongyang. “We are sending an armada, very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier, that I can tell you,” he said. “We have the best military people on earth. And I will say this. He is doing the wrong thing. He is doing the wrong thing.”

But in retaliation to this, North Korea refused to back down and even warned of further escalation. North Korean State media spoke of a nuclear attack on the US at any sign of American aggression, as a US Navy strike group steamed toward the western Pacific. “Our revolutionary strong army is keenly watching every move by enemy elements with our nuclear sight focused on the US invasionary bases not only in South Korea and the Pacific operation theater but also in the US mainland,” its official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said, as reported by Reuters.

With inputs from Reuters