US military confirms apparent failed N.Korea missile test

North Korea has reiterated its constant refrain that it is ready for "war" with the US and its army vowed a "merciless" response to any US provocation (AFP Photo/ED JONES) (AFP)

Washington (AFP) - The US Defense Department confirmed on Saturday that North Korea appeared to have fired a missile, and said the launch failed "almost immediately."

"US Pacific Command detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean missile launch at 11:21 am Hawaii time (2121 GMT) April 15," said Dave Benham, a spokesman with the US Pacific command.

"The launch of the ballistic missile occurred near Sinpo. The missile blew up almost immediately," Benham said.

"US Pacific Command is fully committed to working closely with our allies in the Republic of Korea and in Japan to maintain security," he said.

President Donald Trump was briefed on the development, amid sky-high US-North Korean tensions.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said in a statement: "The president and his military team are aware of North Korea's most recent unsuccessful missile launch. The president has no further comment."

Meanwhile, aides to Vice President Mike Pence, who was en route to South Korea and due to arrive in Seoul early Sunday, said he also had been briefed about the missile launch and was in contact with the president.

The launch came the same day that North Korea's weapons of war rolled through Pyongyang streets as leader Kim Jong-Un mounted a spectacular show of strength on the 105th anniversary of the country's founder, after threats by Trump warning the reclusive nation against a missile launch.

The nuclear-armed state is under United Nations sanctions over its weapons program.

It nevertheless has carried out five nuclear tests –- two of them last year -– and multiple missile launches, one of which saw several rockets land in waters provocatively close to Japan last month.

As tensions worsened between Washington and Pyongyang in recent days, Trump ordered a strike group headed by the USS Carl Vinson supercarrier to the Korean peninsula in a show of force against Kim.