North Korea presented what appeared to be a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) in a parade Thursday evening, state media reported, marking the end of a political congress in which the leader Kim Jong Un admitted serious failures but pledged to strengthen the country. military power.
Dressed in a black leather coat, gloves and a fur hat, Kim smiled and waved as she watched the parade in a lighted Kim Il Sung plaza.
“The most powerful weapon in the world, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, entered the square one after another, powerfully demonstrating the power of the revolutionary armed forces,” the official KCNA news agency reported. .
Photos released by state media showed the SLBM to be labeled Pukguksong-5, potentially marking an improvement over the Pukguksong-4 which was unveiled during a larger military parade in October.
“The new missile definitely looks longer,” Michael Duitsman, a researcher at the California-based James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), said on Twitter.
Ankit Panda, senior researcher in the nuclear policy program of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the parade also featured “a new, unheard of short-range ballistic missile.”
Rockets with “powerful strike capability to completely annihilate enemies preemptively outside the territory,” according to KCNA, were also on display.
The wording suggests that the weapons have a range that extends beyond the Korean Peninsula and could at least reach Japan.
– Joseph Dempsey (@JosephHDempsey) January 15, 2021
The parade seems to end with this new short-range solid-fuel ballistic missile. It looks like a KN24, but on a KN23 style TEL. pic.twitter.com/Z6UGPQXNT7
– Ankit Panda (@nktpnd) January 14, 2021
Unlike October, Thursday’s parade did not feature North Korea’s largest intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which are said to be capable of delivering a nuclear warhead anywhere in the United States.
The parade itself was not meant to be a provocation but was a worrying sign of Pyongyang’s priorities, said Leif-Eric Easley, professor at Ewha University in Seoul.
“The economy is severely strained by the closing of borders in the event of a pandemic, mismanagement of policies and international sanctions,” he said. “Despite or perhaps because of this, Kim Jong Un feels the need to devote limited resources to another politico-military demonstration.”
Invincible ranks clad in iron
At the opening of the congress – the first since 2016 – Kim described the past five years as “the worst of the worstFor the country, acknowledging that the government’s economic plans have failed in almost every respect.
But he was also keen to highlight the North’s growing military prowess and described the United States, which has troops in South Korea and Japan, as the country “the biggest enemy“.
Analysts say the North wants to send a message of strength ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration as the next US president on Jan.20.
Kim has had a tumultuous relationship with outgoing President Donald Trump – mutual insults and threats of war at head-to-head summits – but there has been little substantive progress and denuclearization talks have stalled since the collapse of their February 2019 summit in Hanoi.
The North is subject to several rounds of international sanctions for its banned nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, and Biden, who was vice president under the Obama administration, is expected to take a more orthodox approach to diplomacy.
Thursday’s exhibit also included infantry, artillery, tanks and an aerial demonstration in which planes formed the number “8” to commemorate the congress, KCNA said.
“The majestic elite units and invincible iron-clad ranks of the Republic who will proudly pass Kim Il Sung Square represent our absolute power,” North Korean Defense Minister Kim Jong Gwan said in a speech before the parade Thursday night, the official news agency reported.
The Southern Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) simply said they were analyzing the weapons displayed during the parade, the Yonhap News Agency reported.