While the world is struggling to control the spread of the deadly coornavirus pandemic, North Korea is continuing to conduct tests of its missiles.
On Sunday, the pariah nation fired what was apparently two short-range ballistic missiles into the ocean off its east coast and was a part of an unprecedented flurry of launches that the country has done in recent days.
South Korea has called the tests as “inappropriate”.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff reported that North Korea fired two “short-range projectiles” that were launched from its coastal Wonsan area, and flew for 230 kilometres (143 miles) at a maximum altitude of 30 kilometres (19 miles).
“In a situation where the entire world is experiencing difficulties due to COVID-19, this kind of military act by North Korea is very inappropriate and we call for an immediate halt,” South Korea’s JCS said in a statement, according to Yonhap news agency.
Apparently, the missiles seemed to be ballistic missiles, said Japan’s Ministry of Defense and confirmed that none of the missiles landed anywhere within the territory of Japan or within its exclusive economic zone.
The latest missiles were among the nine that North Korea has test fired this month in four rounds as the military of the country is also conducting military drills. The missile launches are typically personally overseen by the country’s leader Kim Jong Un.
According to a tally by Shea Cotton, senior researcher at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, the total test fires conducted by North Korea this month is the highest done by it in any single month ever. “Coming this early in the year, the only time we’ve seen tests this frequently were in 2016 and 2017, both of which were huge years for North Korea’s missile program,” he said in a post on Twitter.
All of the missiles fired so far this year have been small, short-range weapons, such as the KN-24 fired during the last launch on March 21.
However, a warning that a new “strategic weapon” is being developed by North Korea was issued by Kim earlier and had then also said that the weapon would be unveiled this year. According to speculations by analysts, that new weapon could be a new long-range ballistic missile, or a submarine equipped with missile launching capabilities.
North Korea is barred from conducting any missile testing according to United Nations Security Council resolutions and heavy sanctions have been imposed on the country because of its missile testing despite the US ban.
Despite the North Korean leader imposing a border lockdown and quarantine measures to slowdown the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, the military of the country conducted drills.
The coronavirus outbreak in South Korea and the United States had earlier forced South Korea and the US to postpone some of their joint military exercises.
There has so far been no report of confirmed coronavirus cases from North Korea, but the country remains politically and economically isolated. Some experts doubt the claims over coronavirus that the North Korean authorities are making.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)