Despite international sanctions, North Korea has again tested several ballistic missiles, South Korea said. “Eight short-range ballistic missiles” were fired from the communist country into the Sea of ​​Japan on Sunday, the South Korean Army General Staff said. The day before, South Korea and the United States had completed their first large-scale joint military maneuvers in more than four years.

“Our military has identified eight short-range ballistic missiles fired from the Sunan area of ​​Pyongyang,” the South Korean general staff said. The rockets were all fired within about half an hour. South Korea has increased its vigilance “in preparation for further missile launches” in North Korea and is working “closely” with the United States.

South Korea and the United States ended a large-scale, three-day military exercise on Saturday, in which the US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was also involved. It was the first joint maneuvers by the two allies since Yoon Suk Yeol, who has taken a harder line on Pyongyang, took office as South Korean leader last month.

It was also the first joint military exercise with an aircraft carrier since November 2017. “The exercise has strengthened both countries’ resolve to respond decisively to any North Korean provocation,” the South Korean general staff said.

Pyongyang has repeatedly protested against the joint maneuvers and criticized them as rehearsals for an invasion of North Korea. Go Myong Hyun of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies told AFP that North Korea apparently shot down the missiles on Sunday “because it believes the scale of the joint maneuvers has increased.”

North Korea has conducted 23 missile tests this year. Most recently, the internationally isolated communist country launched three missiles on May 25, shortly after US President Joe Biden visited South Korea, including what is believed to be its largest ICBM. The US government then imposed new sanctions on North Korea. In the UN Security Council, however, the USA’s push for tougher international punitive measures against Pyongyang failed due to the veto of China and Russia.

The United States has been warning for weeks that North Korea could soon conduct a nuclear weapons test for the first time since 2017. The last time the UN Security Council was able to agree on sanctions against Pyongyang was as a result of the nuclear weapons test at the time. According to diplomats, North Korea has nuclear bombs and ballistic missiles, but has not yet managed to combine these two technologies.

According to South Korean information, the leadership in Pyongyang is not giving up its pursuit of nuclear weapons, despite a major corona outbreak in the impoverished country. Experts even fear that North Korea’s ruler Kim Jong Un could accelerate his plans for another nuclear bomb test in order to distract the population from the devastating consequences of the corona outbreak. (AFP)