North Korea rolls out missiles, other weaponry at parade

Apr 20, 2017, 09:16
North Korea rolls out missiles, other weaponry at parade

On past form, the parade will see Kim watch ranks of goose-stepping soldiers marching through Kim Il-Sung Square in the centre of Pyongyang, accompanied by tanks, missiles on trailers, and other materiel.

There can be no winners in a war between the USA and North Korea over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and missile programs, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, while pledging support for dialogue between the sides.

Sunday's launch comes a day after the 105th birthday of late North Korea founder Kim Il Sung.

He passed the leadership to his son, Kim Jong Il, who in turn passed it to Kim Jong Un.

North Korean soldiers also rolled out another large rocket that appeared to be the size of an ICBM, but what a South Korean military analyst said hasn't been seen before. But he insists China-the North's sole major ally and economic lifeline-must exert more leverage on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions or suffer the consequences. It 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 the necessary technology.

The country's biggest national holiday came amid growing speculation that Pyongyang could conduct its sixth nuclear test or launch missiles around key anniversaries in April.

Speaking at an event in Tokyo Thursday, Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said "North Korea's nuclear program is showing steady progress".

"It is still early days for these missile designs".

The U.S. Pacific Command said the missile "blew up nearly immediately", adding the type of missile was being analysed.

In a live broadcast, a newsreader from North Korea's state-run television service called the new military hardware the country's "modernized strategic missiles".

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He said: "It suggests a commitment to this programme". "Multiple SLBMs seems like a declaration of intent to advance the programme".

Kim Jong-Un often threatens the US, South Korea and Japan.

The analyst added that North Korea is also likely to be developing solid-fuel ICBMs, and that some of the rockets inside the canisters on Saturday might have been prototypes. Analysts say the missiles could one day be capable of hitting targets as far as the USA, although North Korea has yet to flight-test them. Though his election campaign was marked with acerbic denouncements of China's "rape" of the USA economy, Trump dropped his anti-China bombast in Florida, afterwards hailing an "outstanding" relationship with Xi. It banned all imports of North Korean coal on February 26 under United Nations sanctions, cutting off the North's most important export product.

State media reported late Friday that starting Monday, the Chinese flag carrier Air China will cancel flights from Beijing to Pyongyang due to poor ticket sales.

Despite continued talks with China, Japan and South Korea, indications from Washington are that the United States are prepared to take unilateral action if North Korea continues its provocation.

"It would be nice if the bomb could frighten Pyongyang, but its actual impact may just be the opposite", it said in an editorial.

Beijing has long opposed dramatic action against the North, fearing the regime's collapse would send a flood of refugees across its borders and leave the U.S. military on its doorstep.

With the men wearing pins adorned with photos of Kim Il Sung, and the women in brightly coloured traditional dress, crowds lined up to bow to portraits of their state founder before touring an exhibition of photos and North Korean paintings.

Kim Il Sung died in 1994 at the age of 82, after leading his country from its establishment in 1948 until his death.

South Korean military officials said they regard it as a new type of ICBM.

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