COVID-19-wrecked North Korea fired three ballistic missiles early Wednesday morning as U.S. President Joe Biden wrapped up his Asia visit, according to its neighbor.
What Happened: The South Korean military said at least three missiles — including one suspected intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) — were fired from the Sunan area in North Korea's capital Pyongyang.
In response to North Korea's "suspected ICBM and missile provocations," South Korea and the United States conducted a live-fire "land to land missile drill," the Asian nation's government said.
South Korea said, post the event, its Foreign Minister Park Jin also briefed U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken.
South Korea's new President Yoon Suk-yeol oversaw the National Security Council meeting, which condemned the act as a "serious provocation that threatens peace on the Korean Peninsula and the international community."
"North Korea's successive launch of a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile and short-range ballistic missile today is an illegal act in direct violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions," it said.
According to Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff, Kim Jong-un fired three missiles. The first ballistic missile, which is suspected to be an ICBM, had a range of around 360 kilometers and an altitude of around 540km. The second ballistic missile "disappeared at an altitude of 20 km," and the third, which is suspected to be a short-range ballistic missile, traveled around 760 km at an altitude of around 60 km.
The U.S. also condemned North Korea's actions and called on Pyongyang instead to choose dialogue. "The United States condemns the DPRK's multiple ballistic missile launches. We call on the DPRK to refrain from further provocations and engage in sustained and substantive dialogue," a State Department spokesperson said late Tuesday (U.S. time).
Why Does It Matter: U.S. Intelligence has previously signaled that North Korea is probably preparing to test its missiles ahead of Biden's official visit to Asia.
The event also forced Biden not to visit the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides North and South Korea during his visit to South Korea.
This comes at a time when North Korea is suffering from its purported first-ever wave of COVID-19. As of May 25, more than three million COVID-19 cases have been reported in the country, with no deaths reported on Tuesday, according to state media KCNA Watch.
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