Saturday July 2, 2022

Seoul, South Korea — North Korea fired several suspected ballistic missiles toward the sea on Thursday, South Korea said. It is the latest in a series of weapons demonstrations this year and it came just hours after the Kim Jong Un regime confirmed its first case of the coronavirus since the pandemic began.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said at least one projectile fired by North Korea was a possible ballistic missile. It gave no other details.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the country’s military had detected three short-range ballistic missiles fired from the Sunan area of Pyongyang into the East Sea, reported CBS News’ Jen Kwon in Seoul. She said it was an atypical weapons test for the time of day it was carried out: North Korea normally launches its missiles in the morning, but South Korea said it had detected the three rockets firing in rapid succession late on Thursday afternoon.  

Earlier Thursday, North Korean state media confirmed the country’s first COVID-19 infections as leader Kim Jong Un ordered nationwide lockdowns to slow the spread of the virus. Kim also ordered officials to bolster the country’s defense posture to avoid any security vacuum.

U.S. condemns North Korea’s long-range missile test 02:01

North Korea has test-launched a spate of missiles this year in an apparent attempt to put pressure on its rivals amid stalled nuclear diplomacy. Some experts say that despite the elevated anti-virus steps, North Korea would likely continue its weapons tests to try to strengthen national unity. 

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Thursday’s launch was North Korea’s 16th round of tests this year and the 18th individual weapons test, by the Biden administration’s count. They have included the North’s first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile since 2017, and there are also signs that the North is preparing to conduct its first nuclear test in five years at a remote testing ground in its northeast.

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Thursday’s test came a day after South Korea’s new President Yoon Suk Yeol was sworn in. The conservative leader is widely expected to take a tougher stance in the standoff with North Korea than his moderate predecessor, but he hinted in his inauguration speech that he would try to lure Kim back to the nuclear negotiating table by offering an “audacious plan” to “vastly strengthen North Korea’s economy.”

In New York, meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council met to discuss the nuclear standoff with Pyongyang Wednesday in an emergency meeting called by the U.S., and the Biden administration’s ambassador made it clear that Washington would try to up the ante by piling more sanctions on Kim’s already-isolated regime.

CBS News correspondent Pamela Falk said U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield condemned the North for carrying out what she said had been 17 ballistic missile launches this year alone – before Thursday’s apparent test firing.

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“At least three were intercontinental ballistic missiles; one was an intermediate range ballistic missile; two were so-called hypersonic weapons; and two were described as a new type of missile for tactical nuclear weapons,” Thomas-Greenfield said, adding that the U.S. believes North Korea is currently “reconstructing its nuclear testing site in preparation for a seventh nuclear test.”

The U.N. delegation from China, North Korea’s most valuable international ally, called for bilateral talks to resume between the Kim regime and the U.S., Falk said, and on the way out of the meeting, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun said: “the more sanctions, the more suffering,” indicating that his country would block a resolution being drafted by the U.S. to impose further sanctions on the North. 


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