PYONGYANG // North Korea unveiled what could be a new intercontinental ballistic missile at a giant military parade in Pyongyang on Saturday, analysts said.
Nearly 60 missiles rolled through Kim Il-sung Square at an event to mark the 105th anniversary of the North’s founder, in a show of strength as tensions mount over the isolated nation’s military ambitions.
Here are the weapons displayed and some notable elements of the parade:
Intercontinental ballistic missiles
North Korea’s ICBMs were the most notable on the 105th birth anniversary of Kim Il-sung.
Several KN-08 missiles were rolled out on trucks at the parade. Military analysts said the missiles could one day hit the continental US, although the North has yet to flight test them.
North Korean soldiers also paraded large rockets covered by canisters that were rolled out in two different types of transporter erector launcher trucks. An analyst from South Korea’s defence ministry could not say if any of the rockets represented a new type of ICBM.
Kim Dong-yub, a military official-turned-analyst at Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies, said the canisters and trucks suggested that the North is developing technology to “cold launch” ICBMs, ejecting them from the canisters before they ignite. This would allow Pyongyang to prevent its limited number of ICBM-capable launchers from being damaged during take-off and also make the missiles harder to detect after they are fired, he said.
North Korea also paraded its new solid-fuel missiles, which can be fired from land or under the sea. These missiles worry South Korea because they are harder to detect before launch than liquid-fuel missiles, which require fuel trucks and other vehicles that could be spotted by satellites.
Soldiers carried out a truck launch of North Korea’s Pukguksong missile, which can be fired from a submarine. In a test launch in August last year, the missile flew 500 kilometres from a submarine and crashed into waters near Japan, prompting Mr Kim to declare that North Korea had gained “perfect nuclear-attack capability”.
The parade also featured the Pukguksong-2, a land-based variant of the submarine-launched missile called the KN-15 by outside analysts.
In a February test launch, the missile flew 500km before dropping into international waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. North Korean then fired the missile at a lofted angle for testing purposes. Some analysts said that if the missile were fired at a normal angle, its maximum range could be up to 3,000km.
A surprise at the parade was the appearance of Kim Won-hong, who was among the senior government officials joining Mr Kim at the podium. The South Korean government had said earlier this year that Kim Won-hong was fired from his job as state security minister.
An official from South Korea’s Unification Ministry confirmed that the man was Kim Won-hong and said his appearance shows he has been reinstated from a “purge state”.
It was not clear what his current role with North Korea’s government was.
South Korea has a poor record of tracking developments in North Korea, as information about the secretive, authoritarian state is often impossible to confirm.
Choe Ryong-hae, a close aide to Kim Jong-un, made a speech at the parade, saying the country is ready to stand up to any threat posed by the United States. He was believed to have been briefly banished to a rural collective farm for re-education in 2015, but apparently regained his political footing during a rare ruling party congress last year.
Since taking power in late 2011, the North Korean leader has executed or purged many high-level government officials in what the South Korean government has described as a “reign of terror”.
* Associated Press and Agence France-Presse