Fears that North Korea would mark its 105th anniversary celebrations with a sixth nuclear test did not come to pass on Saturday, but the dictatorship reportedly used the occasion to show of new types of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
At a parade for what the country calls its “Day of the Sun,” dictator Kim Jong-un presided over goose-stepping soldiers and an arsenal of missiles and tools to launch them.
“A series of what appeared to be KN-08 missiles were among the weapons rolled out on trucks. Analysts say the missiles could one day be capable of hitting targets as far as the continental United States, although North Korea has yet to flight test them,” Reuters reported, adding that the South Korea believed the parade included new types of ICBMs.
The parade amounted to a show of defiance by North Korea, which is the subject of intense scrutiny by President Trump, who has warned the U.S. will “take care of the problem” if the company persists in testing nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
Tensions reached new heights in the run-up to the weekend as North Korea uttered a fresh outburst of bellicose rhetoric, and as the USS Carl Vinson strike group continues to sale towards the Korean peninsula. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration has denied a widespread report by NBC News that it planned to launch a pre-emptive strike on North Korea, while Japan is reportedly conducting evacuation drills in the event of active hostilities.
Against this backdrop, North Korea’s decision not to go forward with a nuclear test or to launch a missile can be considered good news, though the situation remains fraught.
In response to the Day of the Sun parade, analysts expressed alarm at the size of the North Korean arsenal, and Kim Jong-un’s ongoing push to achieve the country’s professed goal of building a nuclear-armed missile.
“They have an indigenous tank system now so they have more launchers, and they have solid fuel, which means they can launch a lot more of these things in quick succession without having to refuel,” Melissa Hanham, an expert at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California, told the Washington Post. The paper added the “overall message to the world was that North Korea was pressing ahead with its missiles and making technological progress.”
Amidst the tensions, China has been urging a de-escalation of rhetoric between the U.S. and North Korea, its long-time ally.