North Korea has unveiled a “monster” ballistic missile – which analysts say is among the biggest in the world – at its first military parade in two years.
In the rare night-time showcase, thousands of North Korean troops goose-stepped in the highly choreographed two-hour event to mark the 75th anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party.
At the parade’s climax, the previously unseen intercontinental ballistic missile was revealed on a huge transporter vehicle with 22 wheels and 11 axles.
Analysts viewing the footage broadcast by state TV said the long-range weapon could be capable of carrying multiple warheads, increasing its threat.
It would be one of the largest road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in the world if it became operational.
“Largest *road-mobile* liquid-fuelled missile anywhere, to be clear,” tweeted Ankit Panda, senior fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“Liquid fuel, Huuuuge, capable of carrying MIRV nuclear warheads,” tweeted Melissa Hanham, deputy director of Open Nuclear Network at Stanford University.
Open Nuclear Network deputy director Melissa Hanham said: “This missile is a monster.”
Also displayed were the Hwasong-15, which is the longest-range missile ever tested by North Korea, and what appeared to be a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).
The parade featured North Korea’s ballistic missiles for the first time since leader Kim Jong Un began meeting with international leaders, including US President Donald Trump, in 2018.
Video showed Kim making an appearance as a clock struck midnight.
Dressed in a grey suit and tie, he waved to the crowd and accepted flowers from children while surrounded by military officials in Pyongyang’s recently renovated Kim Il Sung Square.
Kim spoke for nearly half an hour, often visibly sweating despite the cool morning air, shedding tears when thanking the troops, and smiling and laughing as he watched the missiles.
“We will continue to build our national defence power and self-defensive war deterrence,” Kim said, but vowed that the country’s military power would not be used pre-emptively.
He made no direct mention of the US or the now-stalled denuclearisation talks.
Kim became visibly emotional as he thanked troops for their sacrifice in responding to natural disasters and preventing a corovonavirus outbreak.
He said he was grateful that not a single North Korean had tested positive for the disease, an assertion that South Korea and the US have previously questioned.
“I wish good health to all the people around the world who are fighting the ills of this evil virus,” he said.
While attendees at other celebratory events were shown wearing masks, no one at the parade appeared to be wearing them.
Kim said he hoped that North and South Korea would join hands again when the global coronavirus crisis is over.
Experts said the new, larger ICBM is likely designed to carry multiple independent re-entry vehicles (MIRVs), allowing it to attack more targets and making interception more difficult.
A former US intelligence officer for North Korea said the new ICBM is likely intended to dispel doubts about North Korea’s ability to strike the continental US, and carries an implicit threat that they are preparing to test the larger missile.
“If the Hwasong-15 could carry a ‘super-large’ nuclear warhead to anywhere in the US, then the natural question is what can this larger missile carry?” Markus Garlauskas said.