North Korea has test fired three short-range ballistic missiles toward the sea, indicating that the reclusive nation will continue to pursue its weapon programmes, despite sanctions.

The launches took place from the Sunan area of North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, Reuters reported, quoting South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

The ballistic missiles travelled approximately 360km at a maximum speed of Mach 5, and fell outside Japan’s territorial waters.

This is said to be the country’s 16th known weapons test this year. It comes after North Korea confirmed its first Covid-19 outbreak and ordered a national lockdown.

Last week, North Korea fired a ballistic missile, just days before the inauguration of South Korea’s newly elected president Yoon Suk-yeol.

The latest test was denounced by the US, South Korea, and Japan.

In a statement, the US Indo-Pacific Command said: “We are aware of the ballistic missile launch and are consulting closely with our allies and partners.

“While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to US personnel or territory, or to our allies, the missile launch highlights the destabilising impact of the DPRK’s illicit weapons programme. The US commitment to the defence of the Republic of Korea and Japan remains ironclad.”

Last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un committed to further strengthening its nuclear arsenal.

The US increased its surveillance and reconnaissance collection in the Yellow Sea due to North Korean ballistic missile tests.