North Korea shows off record number of ICBMs at military parade

North Korea shows off record number of ICBMs at military parade

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) viewed Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missiles during a military parade to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army in Pyongyang, state media reported Thursday. Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE

SEOUL, Feb. 9 (UPI) — North Korea held a massive military parade celebrating the 75th anniversary of the founding of the country’s armed forces, state media reported Thursday, with an unprecedented number of intercontinental ballistic missiles and a possible new solid-fuel weapon on display.

The parade was held in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on Wednesday night, state-run Korean Central News Agency said. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attended along with his wife, Ri Sol Ju, and young daughter, Kim Ju Ae, who observers believe is being positioned as his eventual successor.

At least 11 Hwasong-17 ICBMs were rolled out, according to images released by state media.

“The columns of ICBMs appeared in the square resounded with the enthusiastic cheers of the people full of pride and self-confidence, demonstrating the signal development of the military capability and tremendous nuclear strike capability of the DPRK,” the KCNA report said.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.

The display was “cumulatively more ICBM launchers than we’ve ever seen before at a North Korean parade,” Ankit Panda, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said on Twitter.

The liquid-fueled Hwasong-17, first successfully tested in November, is believed to be capable of reaching anywhere in the United States and can potentially be fitted with multiple nuclear warheads.

Also on display were new launch vehicles that appear to be designed to carry solid-fuel ICBMs, according to a report by Seoul-based website NK News.

North Korea tested a solid-fuel rocket engine in December. A solid-propellant ICBM would be more maneuverable and quicker to launch, making it harder for missile defense systems to counter.

The parade featured music, fireworks and choreographed formations of soldiers spelling out words and dates related to the anniversary, including “2.8” and “75,” KCNA reported.

A “tactical nuclear operation unit” also made an appearance, the KCNA report said.

There was no indication whether Kim Jong Un, who was shown smiling and waving from a parade viewing stand, addressed the crowd.

On the eve of the anniversary, Kim attended a military banquet with his daughter and called for the continued development of the military.

“Let us all redouble efforts and work harder to strengthen and develop our army and to achieve the prosperity and development of our socialist country,” he said in a speech, according to KCNA.

Kim recently called for “an exponential increase” of the country’s nuclear arsenal and ordered the mass production of lower-yield tactical nuclear weapons, which are designed to be used on the battlefield.  » …
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