North Korea’s Kim Jong Un presides over grand military parade

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has brought his young daughter to a grand military parade displaying the latest hardware in his fast-growing nuclear arsenal, including intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to reach the United States, state media said on Thursday.

North Korean photos from Wednesday night’s parade in the capital Pyongyang show Kim, dressed in a black coat and fedora, attending the event with his wife and daughter, in the young woman’s last recent public appearance. Kim smiled and raised his hand from a balcony as thousands of soldiers lined a brightly lit Kim Il Sung Square, named after his grandfather and the nation’s founder.

The parade marked the 75th anniversary of the founding of the North Korean military and came after weeks of preparations involving large numbers of soldiers and civilians mobilized to glorify the Kim government and its relentless drive to consolidate Korea’s status. of the North as a nuclear power.

Commercial satellite images of the parade released by Maxar Technologies Inc. showed huge trucks carrying missiles passing through Kim Il Sung Square.Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said the parade featured a variety of nuclear-capable weapons that fuel tensions with its neighbors and the United States, including tactical nuclear weapons aimed at South Korea and missiles. intercontinental ballistic missiles, which the agency described as crucial weapons supporting North Korea. confrontation of power to power, total” against the enemies.

Commercial satellite images of the parade released by Maxar Technologies Inc. showed huge trucks carrying missiles passing through the square’s main street as thousands of onlookers looked on.

Lee Sung-jun, spokesman for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a briefing that the South Korean and US militaries were closely analyzing photos and North Korean reports to assess the weaponry.

North Korean military parades are closely watched by governments and outside experts as they often feature newly developed weapons that the North intends to test or deploy.

Some experts had anticipated that North Korea would use the parade to display a new solid-fueled ICBM, which could be a crucial addition to the country’s long-range arsenal targeting the mainland United States.

Kim ad oversaw a test in December of a «high-thrust solid fuel engine» for a new strategic weapon that he said would be developed in the «shortest period of time,» which experts said likely meant an intercontinental ballistic missile. solid fuel.

The use of solid fuel potentially offers greater mobility for missiles and reduces the amount of launch preparation time. All ICBMs the North has flight-tested since 2017 use liquid propellants.

Solid-fueled ICBMs highlighted an extensive wish list Kim announced under a five-year weapons development plan in 2021, which also included tactical nuclear weapons, hypersonic missiles, nuclear-powered submarines and spy satellites.

The parade came a day after Kim took his daughter, Kim Ju Ae, to visit the troops to mark the anniversary while praising the «irresistible power» of his nuclear-armed army.

Kim Ju Ae is believed to be 9 or 10 years old and her second child. Analysts say Kim’s decision to bring his daughter to public events related to his military is to remind the world that he has no intention of voluntarily giving up his nuclear weapons, which he apparently sees as the strongest guarantee of his survival and the extent of the dynastic rule of his family. .

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