North Korea just declared a state of emergency and fired three ballistic missiles in a row

AP quoted South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) as saying that three rockets were fired from the North Korean capital on the afternoon of May 12 (local time). They flew into the waters off the east coast of North Korea.

Japan’s Defense Ministry said they were likely ballistic missiles but gave no details.

The move comes just hours after North Korea confirmed its first case of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection in the capital Pyongyang since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic more than two years ago.

North Korea just declared a state of emergency and launched 3 ballistic missiles in a row - photo 1.

Footage of a North Korean missile launch was broadcast May 12 in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: AP

According to North Korean state media, leader Kim Jong-un ordered a nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and mobilize emergency medical supplies. He also directed officials to strengthen the country’s defense posture so as not to “create a security vacuum.”

“The country’s most serious emergency has occurred: an incident has occurred on our previously firmly defended epidemic prevention and control front,” North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said.

The AP said the recent missile launch could underscore North Korea’s determination to expand its arsenal despite the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

North Korea has tested a number of missiles this year to pressure its rivals amid stalled nuclear diplomacy. Some experts predict Pyongyang will resist anti-Covid-19 moves and proceed with weapons testing.

The AP said the May 12 missile launch was North Korea’s 16th test this year. There are also signs that North Korea is preparing for its first nuclear test in five years at a test site in the north-east of the country.

Pham Nghia