According to news reports, American military officials believe North Korea attempted a missile launch early on April 16 (their time), but the launch failed almost immediately after liftoff. This leads me to believe that Kim wasn’t foolish enough to try a certain-to-fail launch on the Great Leader’s birthday, but needed some cover that he tried.
From ABC News:
“U.S. Pacific Command detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean missile launch at 11:21 a.m. Hawaii time April 15. The launch of the ballistic missile occurred near Sinpo,” U.S. Pacific Command spokesman Commander David Benham said.
Now, it’s possible the Norks were really testing an ICBM-class weapons-grade rocket platform, which simply malfunctioned on launch. That happens quite a lot in early development.
It’s also possible that the corpulent Lego-coiffed psychopath running the world’s largest prison camp ordered a fake launch to look like an ICBM and had them hit the “Oh Crap!” button before U.S. assets could be absolutely certain about what it was.
A real launch would certainly give time for whatever anti-missile assets the U.S. has deployed to the area to activate and destroy it. (Don’t believe we haven’t deployed anti-missile assets to the region.) It would also give ample pretext for whatever response President Trump saw fit to order.
So this was either a fortunate SNAFU for Kim, or it was a deliberate run-up-to-the-line-and-stop operation. Cynical me tends to believe the latter.