NORTH Korea’s failed missile was reportedly headed to Russia but was detonated prompting Vladimir Putin to put his country on high alert.
Pyongyang test-fired the ballistic weapon on Saturday despite calls from the US and others to curb its nuclear trials.
Seoul Economy Daily reports that the KN-17 weapon travelled 48 kilometres before officials exploded it after fears it was fired at Russia by accident.
“If the ballistic missile that flew to the northeastern region had not failed, it would have been a harbour point or a Russian territory,” the paper claims. “It is for this reason that North Korea intentionally destroyed the missile.”
A source is quoted as saying the launch target was “different from the previous direction” and that “in the past, we fired 89-90 degrees to the east, and the projectile fell off the East Sea. But the angle of this shot was 49 degrees.”
Russia’s chairman of defence and security, Victor Ozerov, reportedly said its air defences in its eastern territories had been put on high alert.
“The air defence of the Russian Federation in the Far East has been put on high alert. We control the airspace in the zone of responsibility of the Russian air forces,” he said.
Mr Putin has sent troops to Russia’s border with North Korea amid fears of a rush of refugees trying to flee the country.
CHINA WANTS US, NORTH KOREA TO MAKE CONTACT
It came as China urged the United States and North Korea to make contact “as soon as possible” and ease tensions over the North’s nuclear weapons program.
The call for negotiations from China’s Foreign Ministry came after US President Donald Trump opened the door to a possible future meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
Mr Trump told Bloomberg News during an interview that he would be honoured to meet with Kim at an unspecified future date “if it would be appropriate.”
In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Washington and Pyongyang need to take concrete steps toward peace and avoid further escalating a crisis that has quickly spiralled into a top global security concern.
China has been pushing for the two sides to back down following a string of missile tests by North Korea and a massive live-fire artillery drill last week that was described as its largest ever.
Across the border, South Korea said a US-sponsored missile defence system is now operational — over China’s strong objections.
US and South Korean troops conducted joint exercises last month along the North’s border. Against that backdrop, Mr Geng said China has taken note of the more diplomatic messages sent by the Trump administration and considers them constructive.
“Both sides should reach a political resolution as soon as possible,” Mr Geng said. “The most effective way of attaining an improvement is to seek ways to re- establish dialogue and contact.”