North Korea to hold giant, 'grand style' military parade

A picture released by the North Korean Central News Agency on Feb 9, 2015, shows North Korean men marching at Kim Il-Sung Square in Pyongyang, on Feb 8, 2015, to celebrate the 67th anniversary of the North's regular armed forces. -- PHOTO: EPA
A picture released by the North Korean Central News Agency on Feb 9, 2015, shows North Korean men marching at Kim Il-Sung Square in Pyongyang, on Feb 8, 2015, to celebrate the 67th anniversary of the North's regular armed forces. -- PHOTO: EPA

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea will hold one of its giant displays of military muscle this year, the ruling Workers' Party said Friday, stressing the need for "cutting-edge" hardware to boost the nuclear-armed nation's fighting capacity.

The "grand style" parade involving the army, navy and air force will be held to mark the 70th anniversary of the party's founding on October 10, according to the resolution adopted by the party's central committee politburo.

The last such event was held in July 2013 - an intimidating, two-hour spectacle of military might and patriotic fervour, involving wave after wave of goose-stepping soldiers, tank batteries and missile launchers.

The parades, usually held in Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang, are closely watched for glimpses of any new hardware that might signal a new step in the North's military development.

The 2013 event showed off a long-range ballistic missile, although experts debated whether it was a genuine working model or just a mock-up.

The march-past in October will "fully demonstrate at home and abroad the might of the service personnel and people united single-heartedly behind the respected Marshal", the resolution said, referring to leader Kim Jong Un.

Stressing the need to ensure victory in any "final showdown" with the United States, it highlighted efforts to develop the high-precision, "powerful, cutting edge military hardware" that was needed to "cope with modern warfare".

North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests and threatened a fourth as part of a nuclear weapons and missile programme that it has pursued through a barrage of international sanctions.

Again there is debate among experts as to how far the isolated, secretive nation has come in developing those weapons, especially the ability to shrink nuclear warheads so that they can fit on a missile.

Its progress in long-range missile technology was hammered home by the launch of a rocket that successfully put a satellite in orbit in 2012.

Since taking over power from his late father Kim Jong Il in 2011, Kim Jong Un has consolidated his grip on power, launching a number of high-profile purges that included the execution of his uncle and one-time mentor Jang Song Thaek.

The party resolution underlined the need to impose "stringent organisational discipline" within the party to shore up the "rock-solid, single-hearted unity" behind Kim's leadership.