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N. Korean missile test 'fiery, catastrophic' failure - Pentagon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea’s attempt to launch a road-mobile intermediate-range ballistic missile from its east coast on Friday ended in a “fiery, catastrophic” failure, a Pentagon spokesman said, noting that the U.S. military is still assessing exactly what occurred.

Navy Captain Jeff Davis told a briefing the military thought the device was a road-mobile missile because the launch occurred at a coastal site where Pyongyang ordinarily doesn’t test rockets.

“We’re still assessing the specifics of it, but I can tell you that it was a fiery, catastrophic attempt at a launch. It was not successful,” Davis told reporters.

The failure was an embarrassing setback for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has continued nuclear and missile testing in defiance of U.N. sanctions and intended Friday’s launch to celebrate the birthday of his grandfather.

Davis told the briefing that even though the missile “catastrophically failed as it was attempting to be launched,” the North Korean ballistic missile program remained a U.S. security concern.

“The fact that it was a failure notwithstanding, we know that this is a capability that they are aiming towards,” he said.

“It’s ... a missile system that they’ve displayed on multiple occasions, and that is why we have a ballistic missile defense system that we have invested in very heavily to be able to outpace that threat as that threat develops further,” he added.

Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by James Dalgleish