The commander of US Forces Korea said Thursday he does not believe North Korea's claim that it has no coronavirus cases, according to CNN and Voice of America.
"That is an impossible claim based on all of the intel we have seen," Gen. Robert Abrams said in a joint interview with the two US outlets in Seoul. "We're not going to reveal our sources and methods. (But) that is untrue. How many, I couldn't tell you."
North Korea has said it has no cases of COVID-19 and boasted about the steps it has taken to prevent an outbreak, including cutting off cross-border travel and quarantining people.
Abrams said North Korea's military was on lockdown for about 30 days in February and early March.
"They took draconian measures at their border crossings and inside their formations to do exactly what everybody else is doing, which is to stop the spread," he said.
Among the 28,500-strong USFK, their dependents and affiliated staff, the general said 16 virus cases have been reported.
"We've seen the worst but now is not the time to get complacent. Our worst is frankly not that bad," he said.
Speaking about North Korea's recent series of short-range missile launches, Abrams said the regime is pursuing a four- or five-year plan to develop solid fuel missile capability with increased accuracy.
"If they perfect it, then bringing these types of systems online into a fully operational, capable status only serves to increase the threat to the Republic of Korea and other countries around the region," he said, referring to South Korea by its official name. (Yonhap)