North Korea unveils new missiles during military parade

Laura Christensen
April 20, 2017

The failed launch from North Korea's east coast, ignoring admonitions from major ally China, came a day after North Korea held a military parade in its capital, marking the birth anniversary of the state founder, in which what appeared to be new long-range ballistic missiles were on display.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests in total, three of them under current leader Kim Jong Un, who has significantly ramped up the country's program.

North Korea displayed what appeared to be new long-range and submarine-based missiles on the 105th birth anniversary of its founding father, Kim Il Sung, on Saturday, as a nuclear-powered USA aircraft carrier group steamed towards the region.

The most recent North Korean nuclear test occurred on September 9, a holiday called the Day of the Foundation of the Republic that commemorates the day the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) was founded in 1948, akin to the Fourth of July.

The elaborate display of the state's vast power involves tens of thousands of participants, from goose-stepping soldiers to crowds of civilians who have spent weeks perfecting their ability to wave plastic flowers in unison.

A North Korean medium-range missile exploded seconds after it was launched on Sunday, U.S. officials said, a high-profile failure that came hours before the U.S. vice president arrived in South Korea, and as an American aircraft supercarrier approaches the Korean Peninsula in a show of force.

But as the most likely target for retaliatory strikes by the North, South Korea are urging dialogue in the case of any North missile/weapons test.

China also has grown increasingly frustrated with the refusal of Kim Jong Un's regime to heed its admonitions, and in February cut off imports of North Korean coal that provide Pyongyang with a crucial source of foreign currency.

The parade also featured the "Pukguksong-2", a land-based variant of the submarine-launched missile.

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The festivities took place amid concerns that North Korea is possibly preparing for its sixth nuclear test or a significant rocket launch, such as its first flight test of an ICBM.

No planned response is expected from the Trump administration because the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the administration's initial understanding of the launch, said there was no need for the U.S.to reinforce the failure.

A clearly rattled China, under pressure from Trump to prevent any North Korean provocation, said the situation had reached breaking point.

South Korea, which hosts 28,500 USA troops to help counter the threats, warned of punitive action if the launch led to further provocations such as a nuclear test or a long-range missile launch.

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.

"The activity during the past six weeks is suggestive of the final preparations for a test", 38 North analyst Joseph Bermudez told CNN. Analysts say the missiles could one day be capable of hitting targets as far as the USA, although North Korea has yet to flight-test them.

North Korea has invoked similarly dire scenarios on previous occasions when tensions on the Korean peninsula have spiked, but Beijing's warnings have fueled global concerns that the current situation is reaching tipping point. The South Korean government had said earlier this year that Kim Won Hong was sacked from his job as state security minister, presumably over corruption. South Korea has a spotty record of tracking developments in North Korea, as information about the secretive, authoritarian state is often impossible to confirm.

NBC News reported on Thursday that the U.S.is prepared to launch a pre-emptive strike with conventional weapons against North Korea if it believes the country is about to conduct a nuclear weapons test.

Other reports by My Hot News

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