SEOUL, June 21 (UPI) — North Korea fired two mid-range Musudan ballistic missiles early Wednesday, local time, but both tests ended in failure.
Pyongyang has now fired the Musudan a total of six times in 2016. The last four launches, all failures, cost Pyongyang $80 million, according to one South Korean estimate.
The missiles were launched from an area near the North Korean city of Wonsan on the country’s eastern coast, South Korean news service Newsis reported.
The Musudan has a range of between 1,800 and 2,500 miles, and is capable of targeting Japan.
On Tuesday Tokyo had placed its forces on alert. The Japanese military was moving its naval launchers and anti-ballistic missile Patriot systems into position.
The first missile was fired around 5:58 a.m., Seoul time, and then a second projectile was detected around 8:05 a.m. according to South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff.
The rockets were launched from a transporter erector launcher but neither projectile could follow a normal trajectory, Seoul said.
A South Korean military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the projectiles “flew for a few minutes,” but did not even reach “minimum range.”
The official also said it is too early to tell whether Pyongyang has made technical progress on the missiles since the last launch, which took place on May 31.
North Korea also launched a Musudan missile on April 15 to commemorate founder Kim Il Sung‘s birthday. The rocket exploded in mid-air, according to the South Korean government.
North Korea’s lack of willingness to give up nuclear proliferation was cited as a reason to extend U.S. sanctions against the country for another year.
According to a statement from the White House issued Tuesday, President Obama declared a national emergency with respect to North Korea, in order to “deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the existence and risk of proliferation of weapons-usable fissile material on the Korean peninsula.”
The sanctions extend the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13466.