North Korea missile test ends in failure - Seoul
A new missile launch by North Korea appears to have ended in failure, South Korea has said, three days after Pyongyang claimed a major breakthrough in its rocket development programme.
The reported launch failure came as US and South Korean troops were conducting their annual military drills that the North calls an invasion rehearsal.
Earlier this month North Korea fired four ballistic missiles that landed in waters off Japan, triggering strong protests from Seoul and Tokyo.
On Wednesday morning, the North fired a missile from the eastern coastal town of Wonsan, but the launch was believed to have ended in failure, Seoul's Defence Ministry said.
It said it was analysing what type of missile North Korea launched.
American officials said earlier this week that the US military expected another North Korean missile launch in the next few days.
The officials said the US had increased its surveillance over the North and had detected a North Korean missile launcher being moved, as well as the construction of VIP seating in Wonsan.
The North's state media said on Sunday that it conducted a ground test of a new type of high-thrust rocket engine, which it hailed as a breakthrough for the country's space programme.
Weapons experts say such technology has applications for the North's ballistic missile programme.
The American military detected what it assessed as a failed North Korean missile launch on Wednesday morning, the US Pacific Command said.
It said the missile "appears to have exploded within seconds of launch".
North Korea is pushing hard to upgrade its weapons systems to cope with what it says is US hostility.
Many weapons experts say the North could have a functioning nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the continental US within a few years.
North Korea carried out two nuclear tests last year.