North Korea surprises with display of new missiles

Kim Jong Un (R), supreme leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), waves as he reviews the grand celebrations marking the 105th birth anniversary of DPRK founder Kim Il Sung in central Pyongyang, April 15, 2017. Amid rising regional tensions, Pyongyang residents have been preparing.

OPINION: What's on Kim Jong-un's mind? .

The parade comes amid rising tensions between North Korea and the rest of the world, after a week-long series of spats directed toward the USA, and a looming possibility of the nation's sixth nuclear test. The North views the strike as telegraphing what the Trump administration's plans are for its regime. Experts say the missiles would theoretically be capable in a remote future of hitting targets as far as the continental United States, but the North has yet to flight test them.

North Korean soldiers reportedly paraded large rockets covered by canisters which were rolled out in two different types of transporter erector launcher trucks, or TELs.

But the most significant revelation was what the South Korean military believes is new type of ICBM, which the North claims to possess but has never successfully tested. The missiles use solid fuel, making them easier to load and harder to detect than liquid fuel rockets.

Weapons analysts said they believe some of the missiles on display were new types of intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs, including a solid-fuel missile created to be fired from a submarine, which would make it hard to detect.

North Korea has warned the U.S. to end its "military hysteria" or face retaliation as a USA aircraft carrier group steamed towards the region and the reclusive state marked the "Day of the Sun", the 105th birth anniversary of its founding father.

Pyongyang has expressed anger over the annual spring military exercises the USA holds with South Korea, which it considers an invasion rehearsal. Also on display was a powerful midrange missile that outside analysts call a "Musudan", and which can potentially reach US air bases in Guam, as well as a new solid-fuel midrange missile that can be fired from land mobile launchers, making them harder to detect before launch.

VOA queried the White House press office and National Security Council regarding the latest comments from North Korea, but received no response. Under his watch, North Korea has aggressively pursued a goal of putting a nuclear warhead on an ICBM capable of reaching the continental United States.

Hanham said the tracked launch vehicles were made in North Korea, which means Pyongyang did not have to break sanctions imposed by China to obtain them.

It has carried out five nuclear tests - two of them previous year - and multiple missile launches, one of which saw three rockets come down in waters provocatively close to Japan last month.

The North has conducted several missile and nuclear tests in defiance of United Nations and unilateral sanctions.

Amid the rhetoric from all sides, no information has emerged to challenge the news reports from earlier this week: North Korea appears to have placed a device in a tunnel at its nuclear test site that could be detonated Saturday or even sooner.

Other senior officials joining Mr Kim at the podium included Kim Won Hong, who the South Korean government had said earlier this year was sacked from his job as state security minister, presumably over corruption. They pointed to a recent editorial in a state-run Chinese newspaper advocating tighter restrictions on selling oil to North Korea.

  • Salvatore Jensen