North Korea celebrates 'Day of the Sun' with defiant show of might

Leader Kim Jong Un presided over the ceremony before about 100,000 residents and a large contingent of foreign journalists who have been allowed in to cover the holiday.

During the pomp and circumstance at Kim II Sung square, citizens showed their revolutionary fervour with choreographed performances while vehicles displaying North Korea's military arsenal rolled by.

Even without nuclear weapons, the North could cause severe damage with its conventional artillery batteries aimed at the South Korean capital of Seoul.

Tensions between Pyongyang and Washington go back to President Harry Truman and the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

Han dismissed the suggestion Trump made previous year during his presidential campaign that he was willing to meet Kim Jong Un, possibly over hamburgers.

South Korea's military said on Saturday that North Korea attempted to launch the missile near Sinpo, on its east coast, but that the effort failed.

Choe Ryong Hae, who some presume as the second-most powerful official in North Korea, said the new United States government under Donald Trump was "creating a war situation" in the Korean Peninsula by dispatching strategic military assets to the region.

"We will respond to an all-out war with an all-out war and a nuclear war with our style of nuclear attack", Choe Ryong Hae, a top North Korean officer, said.

But a USA military official, who requested anonymity to discuss planning, said the US doesn't intend to use military force against North Korea in response to either a nuclear test or a missile launch.

The nuclear-armed North is under United Nations sanctions over its weapons programmes, and has ambitions to build a rocket capable of delivering a warhead to the USA mainland - something Trump has vowed "won't happen".

Vice Minister Han Song Ryol said Pyongyang has determined the Trump administration is "more vicious and more aggressive" than that of former President Barack Obama. An aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, is heading to waters off Korea in a show of force. Russian Federation and China are critical to any pressure campaign on North Korea because they both hold veto power on the U.N. Security Council.

USA officials told The Associated Press that the administration had settled on a policy that will emphasize increasing pressure on Pyongyang with the help of China, North Korea's only major ally, instead of military options or trying to overthrow Kim's regime.

Pyongyang threatened to launch a strike in response to what it's describing as American provocation.

The parade, an elaborate display of the state's huge power, involves tens of thousands of participants, from goose-stepping soldiers to crowds of civilians who have spent weeks perfecting their ability to wave plastic flowers in unison.

Despite all the displays on Saturday, analysts cautioned against overreaction, noting that North Korea's missile tests have had a checkered record of success, and adding that a missile in a parade does not necessarily mean it's operational.

The large-scale parade marked the birth anniversary of the state's founder and featured what appeared to be ballistic missiles. China is North Korea's lone major ally but has spoken out against its missile and nuclear tests and has supported United Nations sanctions.

He said that the North is also likely developing solid-fuel ICBMs, and that some of the rockets paraded inside canisters on Saturday might be prototypes. An official from South Korea's Defence Ministry couldn't immediately confirm whether the rocket was a new ICBM.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has been briefed by his U.S. equivalent General James Mattis on American options for dealing with North Korea in recent weeks, The Sunday Times said.

Adding to Chinese unease, US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that "the problem of North Korea" would be "taken care of".

Another missile launch or nuclear test "can't be ruled out", he said, but the Syria strike and Washington's implied threats "may give Pyongyang some pause".

The Pukkuksong submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) were also on parade.

Tanks, multiple rocket launch systems and other weapons followed, while single-engine planes flew in a 105 formation overhead. 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. So the idea that Kim Jong-un would persist with nuclear weapons in the face of a unified sanctions regime by every major power in Asia is uncertain, to say the least.

  • Zachary Reyes