AP quoted South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) as saying that three missiles were launched from the North Korean capital area on the afternoon of May 12 (local time). They flew to the waters off the east coast of North Korea.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said they were likely ballistic missiles but did not provide details.
The move comes just hours after North Korea confirmed its first case of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection in the capital Pyongyang since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out more than two years ago.
Footage of a North Korean missile launch was broadcast in Seoul – South Korea on May 12. Photo: AP
According to North Korean state media, leader Kim Jong-un ordered a nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and mobilize emergency medical supplies. He also directed officials to strengthen the country’s defense posture so as to “not create any security vacuum”.
“The country’s most serious emergency has occurred: An incident has appeared on our so far firmly defended epidemic prevention and control front,” North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said.
The AP said the latest missile launch could underscore North Korea’s determination to expand its arsenal despite the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
North Korea has test-fired a series of missiles this year in an attempt to put pressure on its rivals amid stalled nuclear diplomacy. Some experts predict Pyongyang will defy the anti-Covid-19 steps and continue with weapons tests.
The AP said May 12’s missile launch was North Korea’s 16th test this year. There are also signs that North Korea is preparing to conduct its first nuclear test in five years at a test site in the northeast of the country.
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