Published April 16, 2012
The very public failure of North Korea's latest missile launch lays the groundwork for more testing and potentially more provocative acts by the budding regime of Kim Jong-un, U.S. officials told Fox News.
The rocket tested last week failed about a minute after it was deployed.
Kim Jong-un, in his first public speech, went on to declare that his "first, second and third" priorities are to strengthen the military -- as the regime unveiled a huge display of weapons in a Pyongyang military parade including a purportedly new missile.
"The botched rocket launch is clearly a setback for the North Koreans," one U.S. official told Fox News, while warning that the regime probably will not be deterred.
"The acknowledgment of failure was unprecedented, but it lays the groundwork to say more testing is needed to validate research. We probably haven't seen the last North Korean provocation," the official said.
The public display on Sunday was seen by regional observers as another example of the importance North Korea's leaders place on their weapons-development program, though it's unclear whether the missile on display was real.
Significantly, U.S. officials are not denying that preparations have begun for a third nuclear weapon test. They do not deny that activity had been picked up through satellite imagery -- that shows North Korean workers digging tunnels into the existing mines that were used for tests in 2006 and 2009.