North Korea fires 3 ballistic missiles after reporting Covid outbreak

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walks alongside what state media say is an intercontinental ballistic missile in his launch vehicle.

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea fired three ballistic missiles into the sea off its east coast on Thursday, South Korea said, in the isolated country’s latest move as it seeks to advance its weapons programs in day he first reported an outbreak of Covid-19.

Japan’s coast guard confirmed North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile, citing its military. The projectile appeared to fall outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, public broadcaster NHK said.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said three short-range ballistic missiles were fired from the Sunan area of ​​the North Korean capital Pyongyang, where an international airport is located and where North Korea said it fired its largest missile. intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Hwasong-17, on March 24.

It was the first shot since the inauguration of conservative South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol this week, which signaled a hard line against North Korea’s weapons development.

Yoon’s office said it immediately convened a meeting of its national security council.

The launch, North Korea’s 16th known weapons test this year, also came hours after the country reported its first coronavirus outbreak, declaring a “serious national emergency” and ordering a nationwide lockdown.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed last month to speed up the construction of the country’s nuclear arsenal amid stalled denuclearization talks with the United States.

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