Military parades are intended to signal strength and intimidate other countries. North Korea also held such a parade again and showed a huge missile. But experts have doubts whether it is real.
North Korea presented a new ICBM at a military parade to mark the 75th anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party. Pictures from state broadcaster KCTV on Saturday showed how the rocket was driven across the square, while ruler Kim Jong Un watched from a grandstand. In the midst of the corona pandemic, thousands of soldiers and spectators without protective masks gathered in the capital Pyongyang.
North Korea will continue to expand its military for self-defense and deterrence, said ruler Kim Jong Un in a speech. Experts believe that the new ICBM is the largest of its kind in the world. It is estimated to be 24 meters long and 2.5 meters in diameter. The first test of the missile could take place around the time the future US president takes office.
Will the US defense system withstand such a missile?
North Korea had already tested a missile with a range as far as the mainland of the United States in 2017. However, experts believe that the new weapon could be designed to bypass the US missile defense system. “It’s a frightening prospect for the already underperforming US anti-missile defense system,” said Melissa Hanham of the NGO Open Nuclear Network.
The missile was “clearly designed to overwhelm the US missile defense system in Alaska,” said Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Judging by the pictures, the ICBM could carry multiple warheads. To intercept this, the US would have to spend around a billion dollars on a dozen interceptors.
However, observers regularly warn that the devices that Pyongyang displays on its parades could be dummies or models. Often times there is no proof that the devices will work until they have been tested.
The military parade was a great spectacle
On the 75th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Labor Party, North Korea wanted to try to demonstrate strength with an unusual night military parade. State television showed the pictures from the anniversary celebrations with thousands of soldiers marching at goose-step, vehicles loaded with rockets, cheering crowds and fireworks in the center of the capital Pyongyang.
He wished good health to all the people in the world who were fighting the corona virus, said ruler Kim Jong Un in a speech under the night sky before the start of the army show. “I also send warm greetings to the South Koreans with the same wish.”
“My efforts and dedication were not enough”
He also apologized for the difficult living conditions in the country. He was ashamed that he could not adequately repay the enormous trust of the population, said Kim, who at times appeared emotionally touched. “My efforts and dedication were not enough to get our people out of their difficult living conditions,” he said on a video shown on state television. He blamed international sanctions, hurricanes and the coronavirus for the problems.
North Korea, Pyongyang: Kim Jong Un, the ruler of North Korea, gives his speech during a ceremony. (Source: dpa)
The military in South Korea assumed that the celebrations would take place on Saturday night. They were recorded. Because of its nuclear weapons program, North Korea is subject to severe international sanctions and is largely diplomatically isolated.
North Korea has not yet reported a single case of infection
Kim, dressed in a gray suit and tie, gave his speech on a podium in Kim Il Sung Square, which was brightly lit. It was midnight when he took the stage. The speech was repeatedly interrupted by cheers from the masses and applause. Some soldiers and civilians wept. Nobody wore a mask to protect against the coronavirus. North Korea has not yet reported a single case of infection.
At the subsequent military parade, the self-declared nuclear power presented ballistic missiles of various ranges, including the new model. At a party meeting in late 2019, Kim Jong Un threatened that the world would see a “new strategic weapon” in his country in the near future. He also stated at the time that Pyongyang was no longer bound by its moratorium on tests for atomic bombs and ICBMs.
The background to this is the faltering nuclear negotiations between the communist leadership and the USA. Since the failed summit between the two countries in Vietnam in February 2019, the talks have not made any progress.
Pyongyang uses the holidays to show strength
Pyongyang often uses important holidays or memorial days to show military strength. The time of day for the arms show was considered unusual this time. First, the General Staff in South Korea had announced that there were indications that a large military parade had taken place in Pyongyang in the early hours of the morning. According to observers, the leadership apparently hoped the nightly mass spectacle would have a greater impact.
“The decision to hold this at the beginning of the night makes sense, with Kim Jong Uns keen, emotional emphasis on overcoming the odds,” North Korea expert Ankit Panda wrote on Twitter. This should suggest: “The light of the Labor Party will penetrate the darkness”.