According to South Korean defence officials, North Korea fired a barrage of short-range ballistic missiles toward the waters off of its east coast on Sunday, a day after the United States and South Korea finished a joint naval exercise involving an American aircraft carrier group. The exercise was conducted in conjunction with South Korea.
Since the beginning of this year, North Korea has carried out 18 missile and nuclear weapons tests, which is more testing than it will carry out in the years 2020 and 2021 combined. According to the South Korean military, the North Korean government launched eight short-range ballistic missiles on Sunday from the Sunan neighbourhood of Pyongyang, the capital city, as well as three other areas. Sunan is home to Pyongyang’s international airport, and in the past, the North Korean government has launched missiles from there.
According to a statement released by the South Korean military, the missiles had a range of 68 to 416 miles throughout their flight after being fired off in rapid succession 37 minutes apart. On the Korean Peninsula, it said that it “strongly encouraged North Korea to avoid major provocations that endanger peace and stability.”
The launch of the missile marked North Korea’s third missile test since the inauguration of Yoon Suk-yeol as the new president of South Korea on May 10. Because of the danger posed by North Korea’s growing nuclear programme, he has pledged to increase the level of military cooperation between the United States and South Korea.
According to authorities from South Korea, a three-day drill that the South Korean and American navy participated in together in international seas in the East China Sea off the coast of the island of Okinawa in Japan came to a successful conclusion on Saturday. As a result of the participation of the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan in the exercise, it was the first U.S.-South Korean joint exercise to incorporate a carrier since 2017.
Officials in both Seoul and Washington anticipate that North Korea will continue its recent barrage of nuclear tests. They claim that North Korea has readied an underground testing site at Punggye-ri, which is located in the northeastern part of the country, for a probable explosion of a nuclear bomb, which would be the country’s first such test since 2017.
The meeting between President Biden and Mr. Yoon took place in Seoul the previous month, and both parties agreed to talk about extending their joint military exercises. According to the authorities, the naval exercise that took place near Okinawa the week before last was a follow-up on that pledge. However, the boats that took part in the drill were on their way to a previously arranged multinational exercise near Hawaii.
As part of their diplomatic overtures to the North Korean head of state, Mr. Biden’s predecessor, Donald J. Trump, and Mr. Yoon’s predecessor, Moon Jae-in, had cancelled or scaled down the two allies’ military drills, to which the North fiercely objects. This was done as part of their diplomatic outreach. Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Moon met with Mr. Kim on three separate occasions, but neither was successful in reducing the North’s nuclear stockpile before leaving office. Instead, the North has doubled down on its efforts to create new weapons.
The last test, which took place on May 25, featured three ballistic missiles, one of which was reportedly a Hwasong-17, which is South Korea’s biggest known intercontinental ballistic missile, according to South Korean authorities. According to authorities from the South Korean defence ministry, North Korea has conducted six tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) or components of ICBMs since February, despite a pledge made by Kim Jong-un in 2018 not to conduct such tests.
The objective of developing a variety of nuclear-capable missiles was declared by Mr. Kim in January 2021, and it seems that the North is working toward that goal. According to officials from the South Korean intelligence community, the North’s most recent tests were also aimed to express confidence that it can overcome its current wave of Covid-19 cases without experiencing internal instability or seeking assistance from the outside.
Last month, North Korea revealed what it claimed was its first case of the Covid-19 virus, and it immediately declared a “maximum emergency” and placed a lockdown on the whole country. It has declined offers to give immunizations from South Korea, the United States, and international health groups, citing that the situation is being “managed and improving.”
Since the end of April, North Korea has reported a total of more than four million people who may have been infected with the COVID virus. On Sunday, the country reported an additional 73,780 cases of possible COVID infection. It has only recorded 71 fatalities so far.
The reliability of the numbers has been called into question by several experts. Because there is a lack of testing kits and laboratories in the North, the severity of the epidemic is determined by the number of persons who are experiencing fever symptoms rather than actual positive tests. Despite having a shoddy public health system, the claimed death toll in the North would equal to one of the lowest Covid mortality rates in the world, despite the fact that there is a great deal of doubt surrounding it.