The new solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) has long been a target of Pyongyang. Once launched, ICBMs are difficult to detect and destroy. North Korea held an evening military parade on Wednesday displaying its latest ballistic missile launchers.
According to experts, an alleged new ICBM with the range to hit the United States was on display at the parade.Although the parade featured multiple tactical nuclear units, the ICBMs showcased North Korea’s “highest” nuclear strike capability, the state news agency reported.
With this long-awaited celebration of the 75th anniversary of its army’s establishment, the country further shows its will to solidify its position as a leading nuclear power.
This ICBM is part of a long list of weapons announced by Kim as part of a five-year weapons development plan in 2021. Most of the country’s ballistic missiles use liquid fuel, which requires loading them with propellant at the launch site. This process is known to take a long time.
However, the ICBM is a solid-fuel missile, offering greater mobility and reducing launch preparation time. The ICBM could also make detecting and destroying North Korea’s nuclear missiles more difficult during a conflict. It is not clear when the new missiles will be tested. On occasion, North Korea has displayed models in the parade.
In addition to the ICBM, Kim Jong Un’s wish list also included tactical nuclear weapons, hypersonic missiles, nuclear-powered submarines, and spy satellites. The US company Maxar Technologies released satellite images that showed huge missile trucks passing through Pyongyang’s Kim II Sung Square before thousands of onlookers watched.
The parade came after Kim called for an “exponential” increase in Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal. This is the fourth-night parade that the country has celebrated in recent years.
“Behind the apparent pairs of Hwasong-17 ICBMs are four unidentified but apparently similar size canisterized systems,” Joseph Dempsey, a defense researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said on Twitter.
Ankit Panda, a US-based security expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the canisterized ICBM could be the one seen during the 2017 parade and has not been tested so far.
This parade was followed by a record year of weapons testing, including firing its most advanced ICBM. Despite UN Security Council resolutions and sanctions, North Korea has pushed ahead with its ballistic missile program, launching larger and more advanced missiles than ever before.
Lee Sung-jun, a spokesman for the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that South Korea, together with the US militaries, were closely analyzing the photos and reports of the parade. Kim Jong Un, who was previously very secretive about who his children were, unveiled his second daughter, 10-year-old Kim Ju Ae, at the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile last November.
Since then, he has appeared alongside his father at multiple high-profile events, the latest of which was a banquet held on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the army’s founding. Analysts believe she is equivalent to being the “princess” of North Korea and her appearances indicate that she is the anointed successor.
At the banquet, Kim praised the “irresistible might” of his military, calling it the “strongest army in the world.”