Tue, 26 May 2020

North Korea Conducts Another Apparent Missile Test

Voice of America
29 Mar 2020, 09:35 GMT+10

SEOUL - North Korea has conducted another apparent missile test, sending a fresh signal it will not stop developing weapons even amid a coronavirus pandemic.

The North launched at least one projectile toward the sea off its east coast early Sunday, according to South Korea's military.

The weapon, a suspected ballistic missile, did not enter Japan's territory or exclusive economic zone, according to the Japanese Ministry of Defense. No other details were immediately available.

North Korea has conducted three other rounds of short-range missile tests this month, even while fighting off a potentially disastrous coronavirus outbreak.

Pyongyang, which has called coronavirus prevention a matter of "national survival," has reported no infections. But even as cases swell across the globe, North Korea is in some ways projecting an image of normality.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has overseen many of the weapons tests. In state media photos, Kim has not worn a mask, though top officials around him sometimes do.

Meeting of parliament

In what appears to be another show of confidence in its ability to handle the pandemic, North Korea plans to go ahead with a meeting of its rubber-stamp parliament on April 10. The meeting will likely require hundreds of political leaders to gather at the Supreme People's Assembly.

North Korea attempted to seal its borders to keep out the coronavirus in late January, just after the outbreak emerged in neighboring China. That move foreshadowed the severe immigration restrictions later seen in countries around the world.

But completely sealing North Korea's borders would be difficult, since its economy relies on both formal and informal trade with China. Many experts say the coronavirus has almost certainly reached North Korea.

A North Korean outbreak could quickly lead to a humanitarian disaster, because the country lacks adequate medical supplies and infrastructure. Global aid agencies have begun supplying medical aid to North Korea, though the process has been complicated by international sanctions imposed over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

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