Reuters PYONGYANG/SEOUL (Reuters) — North Korea displayed what appeared to be new long-range and submarine-based missiles on the 105th birth anniversary of its founding father, Kim Il Sung, on Saturday, as a nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft carrier group steamed towards the region.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Kim Il Sung’s grandson, looking relaxed in a dark suit and laughing with aides, oversaw the huge parade on the “Day of the Sun” at Pyongyang’s main Kim Il Sung Square.
Goose-stepping soldiers and marching bands filled the square, next to the Taedonggang River that flows through Pyongyang, in the hazy spring sunshine, followed by tanks, multiple launch rocket systems and other weapons.
Single-engine propeller-powered planes flew in a 105 formation overhead. The North has said it has developed and would launch a missile that can strike the mainland United States but officials and experts believe it is some time away from mastering all the necessary technology.
Weapons analysts said they believed some of the missiles on display were new types of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM).
North Korea showed two new kinds of ICBM enclosed in canister launchers mounted on the back of trucks, suggesting Pyongyang was working towards a “new concept” of ICBM, said Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the U.S.-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California.
“However, North Korea has a habit of showing off new concepts in parades before they ever test or launch them,” Hanham said. “It is still early days for these missile designs.”
North Korea’s Pukkuksong submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) were also on parade. It was the first time North Korea had shown the missiles, which have a range of more than 1,000 kilometers, at a military parade.
Displaying more than one of the missiles indicates North Korea is progressing with its plan to base a missile on a submarine, which are hard to detect, said Joshua Pollack, editor of the Washington-based Nonproliferation Review. “It suggests a commitment to this program,” said Pollack. “Multiple SLBMs seems like a declaration of intent to advance the program.”
Kim aide makes nuke-for-nuke warning
Choe Ryong Hae, a close aide to Kim, addressed the packed square and reiterated the warning to the United States.
“If the United States wages reckless provocation against us, our revolutionary power will instantly counter with an annihilating strike, and we will respond to full-out war with full-out war and to nuclear war with our style of nuclear strike warfare,” he said.