[World News] Pyongyang fires 2 short-range ballistic missiles into Sea of Japan – South Korea military

News bullet:

North Korea has reportedly conducted a new missile test, launching two projectiles off its eastern coast that fell into the Sea of Japan, the South Korean military reports. The launch marks the fourth such test in a month.

The missiles were fired by Pyongyang early Sunday morning around 6.10 am local time, and flew some 230km (143 miles) before eventually splashing into the waters of the Sea of Japan, the South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

The projectiles reportedly landed outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the Japanese Coast Guard said.

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The South Korean military denounced the launch as “a very inappropriate act” at the time when the world is gripped by the coronavirus pandemic, urging “an immediate halt” of the exercises.

Pyongyang has yet to report a single case of the deadly virus that has infected over 663,000 people worldwide, including nearly 10,000  in neighbouring South Korea and over 82,000 in China.

The reclusive state closed its borders to all foreign tourists back in January, as the virus was only gaining a foothold in mainland China outside of Wuhan.

North Korea has recently ramped up its testing activity, launching a barrage of projectiles towards EEZ earlier this month, including on March 21, when it was reported to have fired two short-range ballistic missiles that flew some 410km (255 miles) before landing. It also fired two short-range projectiles on March 2 and another three on March 9.

With the spate of launches this month that coincide with the country’s ongoing military drills,  Pyongyang resumed its missile activity, dormant for over three months.

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The extended pause came to an end two months after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un warned Washington in December that Pyongyang would not give up on its nuclear deterrent and would continue its build-up instead unless the US changed its approach to the de-nuclearization talks by the end of the year – which it did not. The talks have stalled after the US refused to consider any relief of crippling economic sanctions imposed on Pyongyang, while demanding it disarms completely.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently urged lifting of the “variety of sanctions” against nations such as North Korea, Cuba and Iran in the face of the pandemic, warning they can “create long-lasting harm to vulnerable communities.”

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