SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has pledged to speed up development of his country’s nuclear arsenal while overseeing a huge military parade that displayed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), state media reported on Tuesday.
The parade took place on Monday night during celebrations for the 90th anniversary of North Korea’s armed forces, the state news agency KCNA said.
Pyongyang has recently stepped up weapons tests and displays of military power as denuclearisation talks with the United States have stalled and a new conservative administration takes power in South Korea.
“The nuclear forces of our Republic should be fully prepared to fulfil their responsible mission and put their unique deterrent in motion at any time,” Kim told the gathering, according to KCNA. He said the fundamental mission of the North’s nuclear force was deterrence, but that its use “can never be confined to the single mission”.
“If any forces try to violate the fundamental interests of our state, our nuclear forces will have to decisively accomplish an unexpected second mission,” Kim said.
Dressed in a white emperor-style suit, a smiling Kim waved and shook hands with senior officials when North Korea’s largest known ICBM, the Hwasong-17, appeared in the parade, state television footage showed.
The missile was unveiled in 2020 and first tested last month, but Seoul officials believe it exploded in mid-air. The video featured what appeared to be hypersonic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles being carried on trucks and launch vehicles.
Kim saluted as a squad of people wearing orange hazardous material suits and gas masks, an apparent symbol of anti-coronavirus efforts.
Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2022