North Korea launches 2 ballistic missiles, and one test might have succeeded

North Korea fires two medium-range ballistic missiles
(Image credit: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

On Wednesday morning, North Korea test-fired two missiles, the first one widely seen as a failure, crashing into the Sea of Japan about 90 miles (150 km) from the launch site, and the second viewed as a possible success. The rockets are believed to be medium-range Musudan ballistic missiles, and Wednesday's launches follow four failed Musudan tests since April. The second missile on Wednesday reportedly traveled about 250 miles (400 km) into the Sea of Japan, reaching an elevation of 620 miles (1,000 km). The launches were swiftly condemned by the U.S., China, and the United Nations.

The North American Defense Command (Norad) said the missiles did not pose a threat to North American territories, but South Korea convened an emergency national security meeting and Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said "the threat to Japan is intensifying." "We don't know whether it counts as a success, but North Korea has shown some capability with IRBMs," or intermediate range ballistic missiles, Nakatani said in Tokyo. North Korea is believed to have about 30 Musudan missiles with a theoretical range of 1,500 to 2,500 miles (2,500 to 4,000 km), potentially putting U.S. military bases in Guam within range.

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.