North Korea showcased a series of new weapons at its 75th anniversary military parade marking the founding of the ruling Workers’ Party Saturday, including what South Korea officials say was a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
North Korea has not broadcast a live military parade on television since 2017, when leader Kim Jong Un heightened U.S. tensions by showing off several large ICBMs. The country showed off its “new strategic weapon,” which analysts described as a much larger, liquid fuel ICBM complete with an 11 axle transporter erector launcher.
The first hint of the new weapon came earlier this week when South Korean officials relayed surveillance of thousands of North Korean soldiers in march formation as they displayed what was possibly a new ICBM, or submarine-launched ballistic missile.
Kim’s showcase of the new missile technology highlights his regime’s intention to follow through on 2012 promises to develop state-of-the-art weapons with international attack range. The images of the Pukguksong-2 have raised questions over whether such missiles have actually been tested by the regime.
and it is nice to see something that actually has been tested before. even only once. Pukguksong-2 pic.twitter.com/0RQYz5Fw3t
— Taepodong (@stoa1984) October 10, 2020
Military experts say the new liquid-fueled ICBM appears to more powerful than anything previously known to be in the nation’s weapons arsenal, and a derivative of the Hwasong-15, unveiled back in 2017. This type of seemingly state-of-the-art missile is developed to better evade detection, have a longer range and the capability of holding a much larger payload.
According to Harry Kazianis of the Center for the National Interest, the new system “would allow North Korea to fire one missile and attack multiple different targets thanks to having several different warheads in the nosecone of the missile.”
The Pyongyang parade was intended as a “low intensity” show of power ahead of the U.S. presidential elections on November 3, South Korean officials said, given that denuclearization talks with the West have stalled in recent years. Seoul’s joint chief said the parade may have taken place hours before satellite images and live TV broadcasts, noting that such parades are often closely watched for insight into the regime’s military capabilities.
U.S. talks with North Korea hit a high point in 2018, with President Donald Trump declaring that June, “Just landed – a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!”
Former White House national security adviser John Bolton, in the weeks after Trump fired him from the administration, warned North Korea “will never give up nuclear weapons voluntarily.” He noted that “at some point, military force has to be an option.”
In 2012, Kim announced his plan to simultaneously kick-start the country’s nuclear weapon development program while also boosting the economy. He has since overseen more tests of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons than both his father and grandfather.
Pyongyang praised Trump in September 2019 for its openness to pursuing a “new method” in nuclear disarmament talks. Those talks have since stalled over disagreements over sanction relief and adequate denuclearization steps.
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