North Korea parades new missiles called "the world's strongest weapon," with leader Kim Jong Un allegedly watching the heavy-armored vehicles roll by.
North Korea Parades New Missiles
Kim grinned and waved as he watched the parade in the flood-lit Kim Il Sung Square, dressed in a black leather coat, gloves, and a fur hat.
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Early on Friday morning, North Korea's state-run Voice of Korea (VOK) announced that rows of soldiers marched through the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang to mark the end of the Eighth Party Congress as the country's military displayed "columns of mechanized units."
A variety of military hardware was on view, including tanks and rocket launchers. In addition to the submarine-launch version, analysts described what might be new types of short-range ballistic missiles.
KCNA stated, "The world's most powerful weapons, submarine-launch ballistic missiles, entered the square one after another. They are powerfully demonstrating the might of the revolutionary armed forces," in its report. Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said the parade in itself was not meant to be a provocation but was a disturbing indication of Pyongyang's priorities.
As North Korea parades new missiles last Thursday, unlike October, it did not display the largest intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in North Korea; they can deliver a nuclear warhead anywhere in the United States.
Some analysts noted that it was a previously unseen weapon. "New year, new Pukguksong," tweeted by Ankit Panda, a North Korean expert, using the North Korean name for their submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).
Infantry soldiers, cannons, tanks, and an aerial display were also included in Thursday's exhibition during which aircraft formed the number "8" to commemorate the congress, KCNA said.
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Kim Jong Un pledged to expand North Korea's nuclear weapons and military potential in his address to members last week, outlining a list of desired weapons, including long-range ballistic missiles that are all capable of being launched from the land or sea and are called"super-large warheads."
Kim Jong Un also said that the US was Pyongyang's "biggest obstacle for our revolution and our biggest enemy... no matter who's in power, the true nature of its policy against North Korea will never change".
Under Kim Jong Un's leadership, North Korea has made rapid strides in its arms program, which it claims is essential to protect itself against a potential US invasion.
The latest missiles' announcement is intended to send a message of the North's increasing military prowess to the incoming Biden administration, experts say.
Pyongyang has had an unpredictable relationship with the US under President Donald Trump's administration over the last four years. Before an unprecedented summit in Singapore in 2018 and declarations of affection by the outgoing US king, Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump engaged in mutual insults and war threats.
Despite the apparent warming of relations, no tangible progress was made on North Korea's nuclear program talks, and the second summit in Hanoi in 2019 failed after Pyongyang's requests for sanctions relief were rejected by the US.