Seoul: North Korea on Wednesday launched what appeared to be two Musudan ballistic missiles, mid-range projectiles capable of hitting US bases in Japan or Guam.

The first of the launches took place at 5:58am South Korean time near the east-coast town of Wonsan and appeared to have failed, a South Korean defence ministry official said by phone, declining to be identified because of internal policy. The second launch was at 8am, the official said, adding that the ministry had yet to determine if the firing had been a success.

The official said the projectiles were likely Musudans with an estimated range of 3,000 kilometers. Successive attempts to launch missiles in April and May ended in failure. A US defence official said the indications were that Wednesday’s first launch failed in flight over the Sea of Japan.

The office of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in statements on Twitter that the firings were a “clear violation" of United Nations Security Council resolutions and it would strongly protest the launches. On Tuesday, local media reported the Japanese defence minister had given orders to allow the nation’s military to intercept any missile.

The North Korean regime is banned from testing ballistic missiles under UN Security Council resolutions. Bloomberg

Close