In another embarrassing setback for the North Korean communist regime, a senior U.S. defense official told Fox News late Thursday that North Korea’s test of a new intermediate-range ballistic missile failed spectacularly.
“It blew up on launch,” the official said.
South Korea's Defense Ministry also said it had failed.
North Korea was prepared to launch a new intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of hitting Guam and the Philippines as soon as Friday to celebrate the 104th birthday of the late North Korean founder and leader Kim Il Sung, two U.S. defense officials told Fox News.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is currently visiting the Philippines to finalize plans to station U.S. troops there for the first time since 1992, when the Subic Bay naval base closed. The U.S. military has moved thousands of troops onto Guam recently.
April 15 is a national holiday in North Korea, known as “Day of Sun."
The Musudan ballistic missile has a range of nearly 2,500 miles, but it has never been tested by North Korea. Officials say this particular Musudan has been seen on a road launcher, which is a concern to the Pentagon because of its mobility and potential concealment in the future.
For the past few years, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has paid respects to his father and grandfather, founder of the communist country, at Kumsusan Place of the Sun on April 15.
Last month, despite claims by North Korea that it fired two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, two U.S. officials told Fox News that one blew up shortly after liftoff in an embarrassing new development for the North Korean military.
Both missiles were Nodong medium-range ballistic missiles, based on the Soviet-era Scud-C missile. North Korea has also launched a series of short-range rockets recently that landed in the Sea of Japan.
In February, North Korea launched a satellite into space on Super Bowl Sunday in the United States. The concern among Pentagon officials is that the components used to launch the long-range rocket into space are the same used for an intercontinental ballistic missile.
The U.S. Air Force’s top officer, Gen. Mark Welsh, told reporters in March that North Korea did not possess the capability to put a nuclear warhead atop one of its long-range ballistic missiles. North Korean leaders a day later said they did.
The recent launches of North Korean missiles coincide with annual military exercises between the United States and South Korea involving more than 10,000 troops.
Three nuclear-capable B-2 bombers were sent to the region as part of the exercise in a show of force to the North Koreans.
Lucas Tomlinson is the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News Channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @LucasFoxNews