North Korea launched a long-range missile Wednesday that may be capable of reaching the United States but it failed after 35 or 40 seconds, two State Department officials said.
The missile was one of at least three that were fired. The two others were short-range missiles. All landed in the Sea of Japan, said the Japanese government, which was unable to confirm that they included a long-range missile.
The officials in Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the long-range missile was the Taepodong-2, North Korea's most advanced missile with a range of up to 9,320 miles.
The launch came after weeks of speculation that the North was preparing to test its advanced Taepodong-2 missile from a site on its northeast coast. The preparations had generated stern warnings from the United States and Japan, which had threatened possible economic sanctions in response.
The Sea of Japan lies between Japan and the Korean Peninsula.
"North Korea has gone ahead with the launch despite international protest," Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said. "That is regrettable from the standpoint of Japan's security, the stability of international society, and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."