North Korea launched two unidentified bullets into its east sea on Monday as it begins to resume arms demonstrations after a month-long hiatus that may have been forced by the coronavirus crisis in Asia.
The launch took place two days after the North Korean state media stated that leader Kim Jong-un oversaw an artillery exercise aimed at testing the readiness for combat of frontline and eastern units.
Seoul’s Chief Chief of Staff reported that bullets fired from an area near the coastal city of Wonsan have flown some 240 kilometers northeast on an apogee of approximately 35 kilometers. He said the South Korean and U.S. military were jointly analyzing the launches, but did not immediately confirm whether the weapons were ballistic or rocket artillery.
Kim had entered the New Year’s oath to strengthen his nuclear deterrent in the face of US “gangster” sanctions and pressure, using a key party meeting in government in late December to warn of “shocking” actions on stalled nuclear negotiations with the Trump administration.
He also said that the North will soon reveal a new “strategic weapon” and insisted that the North is no longer “unilaterally bound” to a self-imposed suspension on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile testing.
Japan stated that it had not detected any bullet landing in the territory of Japan or in its exclusive economic zone and that no ship or sea plane had been damaged.
“Repeated ballistic missile launches by North Korea are a serious problem for the international community, including Japan, and the government will continue to collect and analyze information and monitor the situation to protect people’s lives and property,” said the Ministry of Defense statement said.
The recent hiatus in North Korean launches has made experts think if the North was holding onto its weapon displays while pushing a hard fight against the coronavirus, which state media described as a “national existence” issue. Some analysts have speculated that the North has reduced training and other activities involving large gatherings of soldiers to reduce the possibility of the virus spreading within its military.
Kim’s latest show of strength is apparently aimed at strengthening military morale, strengthening internal unity and showing that her country is doing well despite external concerns about how the North would face an outbreak.
North Korea has not yet confirmed any COVID-19 cases, although state media have hinted that an uncertain number of people have been quarantined after experiencing symptoms. North Korea closed nearly all cross-border traffic, banned tourists, intensified screening at entry points and mobilized tens of thousands of health workers to monitor residents and isolate those with symptoms.
Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump have met three times since they embarked on high-risk nuclear diplomacy in 2018, but negotiations have failed since their second summit last February in Vietnam, where Americans rejected requests from the North Korea to obtain major sanctions in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capacity.
Following the collapse of Hanoi, the North ended a 17-month hiatus in ballistic activity and conducted at least 13 rounds of gunshots last year, using interrupted talks to expand its military capabilities.
These weapons included solid fuel mobile road missiles designed to beat missile defense systems and an evolutionary medium-range missile that could eventually be launched from submarines, potentially strengthening the North’s ability to hit targets in South Korea and Japan, including U.S. bases there.
The North in December said it had conducted two “crucial” tests in a long-range missile facility that would strengthen its nuclear deterrent, prompting speculation that it is developing a new ICBM or preparing a satellite launch that would further advance its missile technology. long range.