North Korea unveiled what appeared to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile and other additions to its growing weapons arsenal at a military parade on Saturday.
Leader Kim Jong Un took centre stage at the massive military parade and public rally in Pyongyang which marked the 75th anniversary of the country’s ruling Workers’ party.
The weapons displayed in the parade included what was possibly the North’s biggest-yet ICBM, which was mounted on an 11-axel launch vehicle that was also seen for the first time.
Ballistic missiles were featured for the first time since Kim began meeting with international leaders, including U.S. President Donald Trump, in 2018.
Ahead of the parade, officials in South Korea and the United States said Kim could use the event to unveil a new “strategic weapon” as promised earlier this year.
It is the country’s first parade in two years and comes just weeks ahead of the US presidential election.
Kim, flanked with senior officials and smiling widely, waved to the crowd before taking his spot on the podium. He warned that his country would “fully mobilize” its nuclear force if threatened.
“We will continue to strengthen the war deterrent, the righteous self-defence means, so as to contain and control all the dangerous attempts and intimidatory acts by the hostile forces, including their sustained and aggravating nuclear threat,” Kim said.
“If any forces infringe upon the security of our state and attempt to have recourse to military force against us, I will enlist all our most powerful offensive strength in advance to punish them,” he added.
The missiles highlighted how the North has continued to expand its military capabilities amid a stalemate in nuclear negotiations with the Trump administration.
But the North Korean leader clarified that the nuclear weapons are “developed not for aiming at others,” but “in order to defend ourselves.”
He avoided direct criticism of Washington during the event but focused on a domestic message urging his people to remain firm in the face of “tremendous challenges” posed by the coronavirus pandemic and crippling US-led sanctions over his nuclear program. Sometimes appearing emotional and even shedding tears at one point, Kim thanked the military for working hard to respond to natural disasters and to prevent a coronavirus outbreak.
State news agency KCNA said the authority and security of North Korea hinged on “the huge nuclear strategic forces” shown in the parade.