The U. S. State Department is confirming that North Korea launched a long-range missile early Wednesday morning, but that the missile failed less than a minute after take-off.
At least two other shorter-range missiles were also launched. They landed in the Sea of Japan. Last month, satellite images indicated that a Taepodong-Two long-range missile thought capable of reaching the United States was on the launch pad and being fueled.
Wednesday's launches were North Korea's first missile firings in several years. The United States and Japan have been warning that a ballistic missile launch would lead Washington and Tokyo to consider punitive measures.
A commentary published by North Korea's official news agency earlier this week said Pyongyang will respond with an "annihilating" strike with nuclear weapons if it is attacked.