Sue-Lin Wong and James Pearson
By Sue-Lin Wong and James Pearson
PYONGYANG/SEOUL (Reuters) - 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 U.S. aircraft carrier group steamed towards the region.
Missiles appeared to be the main theme of a giant military parade, with Kim’s grandson, leader Kim Jong Un, taking time to greet the commander of the Strategic Forces, the branch that oversees the missile arsenal.
A U.S. Navy attack on a Syrian airfield this month with Tomahawk missiles raised questions about U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans for reclusive North Korea, which has conducted several missile and nuclear tests in defiance of U.N. sanctions, regularly threatening to destroy the United States.
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.
Goose-stepping soldiers and marching bands filled the square, next to the Taedonggang River that flows through Pyongyang, in the hazy spring sunshine, followed by tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems and other weapons.
Single-engine propeller-powered planes flew in a 105 formation overhead.
Unlike at some previous parades attended by 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 U.N. sanctions. China on Friday again called for talks to defuse the crisis.
Weapons analysts said they believed some of the missiles on display were new types of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM).
The North has said it has developed and would launch a missile that can strike the mainland United States but officials and experts believe it is some time away from mastering all the necessary technology.