South Korea’s military says, in its first apparent weapons test of the year,the missiles were launched from the North’s east coast towards the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said they were “believed to be short-range ballistic missiles”.

Last May saw the first missile tests after an 18-month freeze. As the year progressed, many more followed.

North Korea, which has historically stepped up missile testing in the spring, carried out its last test in November.

Monday’s test comes just days after South Korea and the US publicized, they were postponing the annual joint drills that anger the North, among concern over the corona virus.

Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Elwha University in Seoul, said the tests seemed to be “less provocative than North Korea is capable of”.

But the country is still “making it clear it will continue to improve military capabilities and make outsizes demands”.

Prof Easley added: “The US and South Korea postponing their drills and offering humanitarian assistance has earned no goodwill from a Kim regime that sees little benefit in restarting diplomacy.”

At the start of the year, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said he was ending the suspension of nuclear and long- range missile tests , as talks between the US and North Korea ground to a halt. The North Korean leader threatened that the world would “witness a new strategic weapon… in the near future”.

The last time North Korea conducted a missile test was in November 2019 – when it said it was testing a “super-large multiple-rocket launcher”. But Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe accused the North of launching ballistic missiles, earning him scorn from North Korean state media who called him an “imbecile”.

North Korea is banned from firing ballistic missiles under UN Security Council resolutions. It has in the past fired missiles that it claims are capable of reaching the US mainland.








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