Launched three ballistic missiles after North Korea reported the outbreak of COVID-19

Seoul — North Korea launched three ballistic missiles into the sea off the east coast on Thursday, South Korea and Japan said.

From the Sunan area of ​​Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, there is an international airport and the largest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Hwasong-17, March 24, South Korea’s Joint Staff Chief (JCS) said.

The missile flew about 360 kilometers (224 miles) and reached an altitude of 90 kilometers and a top speed of Mach 5, JCS said. The United States has accused the launch of a violation of the UN ban on such tests, but the U.S. military said it did not pose an imminent threat to the United States or its allies.

Japan’s Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said the missile flew to about 350 kilometers (217 miles) and up to about 100 kilometers (62 miles) before landing outside Japan’s territorial waters.

“A series of missile launches during the Ukrainian invasion is unacceptable,” he told reporters, adding that Tokyo had filed a protest against North Korea through the Beijing embassy.

North Korea’s 16th known weapons test this year took place hours after reporting the outbreak of the first COVID-19, proclaiming the “worst national emergency” and ordering a national blockade.

This is the first launch since President Yoon Suk-yul, who has shown a strong opposition to North Korea’s weapons development, took office this week.

Yun’s National Security Agency has released a statement blaming the launch, launching ballistic missiles, and “mourning the duplication” of ignoring their plight during the outbreak of COVID-19. bottom.

However, Yun’s office said it would not link humanitarian aid to political differences with North Korea, and the new presidential candidate as minister for relations between South Korea was COVID-19 treatment, syringes, and other Medical supplies.

Some analysts suggest that such humanitarian aid could create opportunities to resume deadlocked diplomacy with North Korea.

However, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council said the United States currently has no plans to share vaccines with North Korea, which has repeatedly refused to provide vaccines from the COVAX Global Vaccine Sharing Project.

Spokespersons said that while Washington continued to support international efforts aimed at providing important humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable North Koreans, North Korea “exploited its own people and the people of the country. We continue to divert resources from the United States to build illegal nuclear weapons and trajectories. ” “

Officials said North Korea created a significant barrier to the provision of aid by closing its borders and rejecting offers for international aid.

The recent launch is under concern that North Korea may be trying to resume a nuclear test that has been suspended since 2017. US and South Korean officials said this could happen as early as this month.

US President Joe Biden will visit South Korea and Japan next week, and North Korea will be on the top of his agenda.

North Korean Prime Minister Kim Jong-un vowed at the end of last month to promote the expansion of nuclear weapons amid stagnant denuclearization negotiations with the United States.

North Korea used a submarine-launched ballistic missile in its final weapons test on Saturday. This is a type that has been actively developed in recent years.

In a statement, the U.S. military said it was in close talks with its allies and partners about Thursday’s launch. “Missile launches highlight the volatile effects of North Korea’s illegal weapons program,” he said.

The State Department also said it was still committed to its diplomatic approach with North Korea, accusing Pyongyang of the launch, repeatedly calling for a return to the dialogue.

Shin Hyun Hee