North Korea puts on a show for Day of the Sun

Bruno Cirelli
Aprile 21, 2017

The parade, an elaborate display of the state's enormous 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.

Kim Jong Un has overseen three nuclear tests and a string of missile and rocket launches since taking over after the death of his father, dictator Kim Jong Il, in late 2011.

With concerns that North Korea is getting closer to successfully producing a nuclear arsenal, Saturday's parade was an opportunity for Mr Kim to broadcast North Korea's current military capabilities.

The parade, the annual highlight of North Korea's most important holiday, came amid growing worldwide worries that North Korea may be preparing for its sixth nuclear test or a major missile launch, such as its first flight test of an ICBM capable of reaching United States shores. They say the administration considered diverse policy options, from using military force to overthrow the regime to accepting the country as a nuclear state.

"No nation in the world develops missiles and shows the real thing during a parade, it's just too unsafe", Markus Schiller, a weapons expert with ST Analytics, told CNN that parades always involve "mock-ups".

For North Koreans, April 15 is an auspicious date that sees millions celebrate the birth of the nation's founder.

Along with the deployment of the Naval aircraft carrier and other vessels into waters off the Korean Peninsula, thousands of USA and South Korean troops, tanks and other weaponry were also deployed last month in their biggest-ever joint military exercises. Technically, North Korea is still at war with the South and its ally, the United States, because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice and not a peace treaty.

"If the USA does any reckless provocation, we will immediately apply a destructive strike with our revolutionary power".

A U.S. State Department official said later Friday the U.S. was aligning "all elements of national power" to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile programs. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has appeared in a massive parade.

It has since conducted a number of shorter-range missile tests - some of which landed in the sea, less than 200 miles off the Japanese coast. Also on display was a powerful midrange missile that outside analysts call a "Musudan", and which can potentially reach USA air bases in Guam.

The U.S. government has reportedly settled on its new strategic position on how to deal with North Korean matters from now on: "Maximum pressure and engagement". They then spoke Tuesday by phone, in a call Trump described as "very good".

DPRK stands for the official name of North Korea, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"If China decides to help, that would be great".

He added: "We will go to war if they choose".

North Korea conducted two such tests a year ago alone, which analysts say would have taken the country a step forward in gaining the knowledge to make nuclear weapons small enough to fit on long-range missiles.

It also often involves shows of force, such as weapons tests or other displays of strength.

With the men wearing pins adorned with photos of Kim Il Sung, and the women in brightly colored traditional dress, crowds lined up to bow to portraits of their state founder before touring an exhibition of photos and North Korean paintings.

Joseph Bermudez, an analyst for North Korean monitoring group 38 North, said preparations could even be seen on satellite images, which showed thousands of people and hundreds of vehicles practicing ahead of the event.

In a test launch in August a year ago, the missile flew 500 kilometers (310 miles) after being launched from a submarine and crashed into waters near Japan, prompting Kim Jong Un to declare that North Korea had gained "perfect nuclear-attack capability".

Single-engine propeller-powered planes flew in a 105 formation overhead.

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

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