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North Korea fires 3 ballistic missiles during first virus outbreak – Boston News, Weather, Sports

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired three short-range ballistic missiles toward the sea on Thursday, its neighbors said, in the latest in a series of gun demonstrations this year, which came just hours after it was confirmed first corona case since the beginning of the pandemic.

The launches could underscore North Korea’s determination to press ahead with its efforts to expand its arsenal despite the virus outbreak, to rally support behind leader Kim Jong Un and keep up the pressure on its rivals amid a long-dormant nuclear diplomacy.

Thursday’s launches were the first weapons fired by the North since the inauguration of new conservative South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Tuesday.

North Korea has a history of shaking up new governments in Seoul and Washington to bolster its bargaining chip in future negotiations. The North Korean nuclear threat will likely be high on the agenda when Yoon meets US President Joe Biden in Seoul next week.

Both South Korea and Japan condemned the launches from the north’s capital region on Thursday afternoon.

The missiles crashed into the waters between North Korea’s east coast and outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said. There were no reports of damage to aircraft or ships.

The South Korean military said it has increased its preparedness and surveillance while maintaining close coordination with the United States. She called on the North to stop its repeated rocket fire immediately.

South Korea and Japan released similar flight data and said the guns traveled a distance of about 350 to 360 kilometers (217 to 224 miles) at a maximum altitude of 90 to 100 kilometers (56 to 62 miles).

Earlier Thursday, North Korean state media confirmed the country’s first COVID-19 infections as Kim ordered nationwide lockdowns to slow the spread of the virus. Kim also ordered officials to strengthen the country’s defense posture to avoid a security vacuum.

In recent months, North Korea has been testing a barrage of missiles in what experts say is an attempt to modernize its weapons and pressure the United States and its allies to accept it as a nuclear state and ease sanctions on the north. Some observers say that despite the increased anti-virus measures, North Korea would likely continue to build its arsenal with weapons tests to boost public morale and strengthen loyalty to the Kim leadership.

“North Korea’s recent rocket fire seems too much to test and improve military capabilities,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. “These launches look like a show of force after the Kim regime publicly admitted a coronavirus outbreak.”

A statement issued after a meeting chaired by Yoon’s national security adviser Kim Sung-han said South Korea would seek “practical” and “strict” measures in cooperation with the international community to respond to the growing North Korean threat to react.

Recently tested North Korean weapons have included a variety of nuclear-capable missiles that could potentially reach South Korea, Japan or the US mainland. In March, North Korea ended its self-imposed suspension of huge weapons tests since 2018 with the launch of its largest missile capable of reaching the entire American homeland.

The UN Security Council has typically imposed punitive sanctions on North Korea after it conducted nuclear and long-range missile tests. But that didn’t happen in March because veto members disagreed over Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Last Saturday, South Korea spotted the launch of a North Korean ballistic missile, likely from a submarine, the first such test since last October. There are also signs the North is preparing to conduct its first nuclear test in nearly five years at a remote test site in the northeast.

(Copyright (c) 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed, or redistributed.)

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https://whdh.com/news/n-korea-fires-3-ballistic-missiles-amid-1st-virus-outbreak/ North Korea fires 3 ballistic missiles during first virus outbreak – Boston News, Weather, Sports

Nate Jones

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