PYONGYANG • North Korea yesterday displayed what appeared to be new long-range and submarine-based missiles on the 105th birth anniversary of its founding father. It also warned the United States not to take provocative action in the region, saying it is "ready to hit back with nuclear attacks".
As a US aircraft carrier group headed towards the region, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, looking relaxed in a dark suit and laughing with aides, oversaw the festivities on the "Day of the Sun" at Pyongyang's main Kim Il Sung Square.
Tensions have risen in the past week after US President Donald Trump's administration sent the warships and threatened to act alone if the North Korean regime proceeds with a nuclear or ballistic missile test.
China urged all sides to back down last Friday, warning that a war on the Korean peninsula would have devastating consequences.
While Mr Kim did not address the gathering yesterday, his close aide Choe Ryong Hae gave a defiant speech, saying that Pyongyang would react in kind to any provocation - nuclear or otherwise.
WARNING TO THE U.S.
We're prepared to respond to an all-out war with an all-out war and we are ready to hit back with nuclear attacks of our own style against any nuclear attacks.
MR CHOE RYONG HAE, a close aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in a defiant speech.
"We're prepared to respond to an all-out war with an all-out war and we are ready to hit back with nuclear attacks of our own style against any nuclear attacks," Mr Choe said.
During the parade, goose-stepping soldiers and marching bands filled the square, next to the Taedonggang River that flows through Pyongyang, followed by tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems and other weapons.
Single-engine propeller-powered planes flew in formation overhead.
Weapons analysts said they believed some of the missiles on display were new types of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) enclosed in canister launchers mounted on the backs of trucks.
North Korea has said it has developed and would launch a missile that can strike mainland US, but officials and experts believe it is some time away from mastering all the necessary technology. There were also experts who said the hardware looked fake and could be mock-ups aimed to impress the outside world.
Ms Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the US-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies, said Pyongyang appears to be working towards a "new concept" of ICBM. "However, North Korea has a habit of showing off new concepts in parades before they ever test or launch them," she said. "It is still early days for these missile designs."
Mr Chad O'Carroll, managing director of specialist service NK News, said the new rockets could be liquid-fuelled ICBM or an early prototype. Such long-range missiles would be "a big game changer" once they are deployed in service.
The Pukkuksong submarine-launched ballistic missiles were also displayed. It was the first time North Korea had shown the missiles at a military parade. Experts differ on the details of Pyongyang's missile capabilities, but all agree it has made rapid strides.
Unlike at some previous parades attended by Mr Kim, there did not appear to be a senior Chinese official in attendance. China is North Korea's lone major ally but has spoken out against its missile and nuclear tests and has supported United Nations sanctions.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG
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