North Korea has displayed what appeared to be new developmental ballistic missiles designed to be launched from submarines and other military hardware at a parade, capping more than a week of political meetings with a show of military might.
Clad in a leather coat and fur hat, leader Kim Jong Un smiled and waved on Thursday night (local time) as he oversaw the parade in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square, according to state media.
The parade featured rows of marching soldiers, as well as a range of military hardware including tanks and rocket launchers.
‘World's most powerful weapon’
At the end, a number of what analysts said appeared to be new variants of short-range ballistic missiles and SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles) rolled into the square on trucks.
"The world's most powerful weapon, submarine-launch ballistic missiles, entered the square one after another, powerfully demonstrating the might of the revolutionary armed forces," news agency KCNA reported.
North Korea has test-fired several SLBMs from under water, and analysts say it is seeking to develop an operational submarine to carry the missiles.
Photos released by state media show the SLBM is labelled Pukguksong-5, potentially marking an upgrade over the Pukguksong-4 that was unveiled at a larger military parade in October.
Unlike that October parade, Thursday's event did not showcase North Korea's largest intercontinental ballistic missiles, which are believed to be able to deliver a nuclear warhead to anywhere in the United States.
During the eight-day Workers’ Party congress that ended Tuesday (local time), Kim also revealed plans to salvage the nation’s economy amid US-led sanctions over his nuclear ambitions, pandemic-related border closures and natural disasters that wiped out crops.
Biden labels Kim a ‘thug’
The economic setbacks have left Kim nothing to show for his ambitious diplomacy with President Donald Trump, which derailed over disagreements in exchanging sanctions relief and the North’s denuclearisation steps, and pushed Kim to what is clearly the toughest moment of his nine-year rule.
Kim’s comments are likely intended to pressure the incoming US government of Joe Biden, who has previously called the North Korean leader a “thug” and accused Trump of chasing spectacle rather than meaningful curbs on the North’s nuclear capabilities.
Kim has not ruled out talks, but he said the fate of bilateral relations would depend on whether Washington abandons its hostile policy toward Pyongyang.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Kim Jong Un delivered a speech during the parade. North Korean state TV was expected to release footage of the parade later on Friday (local time).
Nuclear-powered submarines were just one of many advanced military assets that were on Kim’s wish list during the congress, which also included longer-range ICBMs that could potentially target the US mainland more reliably, new tactical nuclear weapons and warheads, spy satellites and hypersonic weapons.
It’s unclear whether the North is fully capable of acquiring such systems. While the country is believed to have accumulated at least dozens of nuclear weapons, outside estimates on the exact status of its nuclear and missile programs vary widely.
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