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North Korea fires missiles into sea amid coronavirus pandemic

Issued on: 29/03/2020 – 07:41Modified: 29/03/2020 – 07:45

North Korea on Sunday fired two suspected ballistic missiles into the sea, South Korea and Japan said, continuing a streak of weapons launches that suggests leader Kim Jong Un is trying to strengthen domestic support amid worries about a possible coronavirus outbreak in the country.

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South Koreas Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the projectiles flying from the North Korean eastern coastal city of Wonsan into the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan on Sunday morning. The projectiles flew about 230 kilometers (143 miles) at a maximum altitude of 30 kilometers (19 miles), the statement said.

The military described the launches as “very inappropriate” at a time when the world is battling the coronavirus outbreak. It urged North Korea to stop such military action.

Japans Defense Ministry said that presumed ballistic missiles were believed to have splashed into the sea outside of Japans exclusive economic zone.

“Recent repeated firings of ballistic missiles by North Korea is a serious problem to the entire international community including Japan,” a ministry statement said.

In recent weeks, North Korea has fired a slew of missiles and artillery shells into the sea in an apparent effort to upgrade its military capability amid deadlocked nuclear talks with the United States. Those weapons were all short range and capable of striking South Korea, but didnt pose a direct threat to the U.S. homeland.

Some experts say the latest North Korean launches were likely designed to shore up unity and show that leader Kim Jong Un is in control in the face of U.S.-led sanctions and the global pandemic.

Kim “wants to show he rules in a normal way amid the coronavirus (pandemic) and his latest weapons tests were aimed at rallying unity internally, not launching a threat externally,” said Kim Dong-yub, an analyst at Seouls Institute for Far Eastern Studies. “North Korea doesnt have time now to spare for staging (external threats).”

North Korea has been engaged in an intense campaign to prevent the spread of the virus that has infected more than 660,000 worldwide.

It has called its campaign a matter of “national existence” but has steadfastly denied there has been a single virus outbreak on its soil. Many foreign experts question thatRead More – Source

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