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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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After months of secrecy, North Korea holds military parade

Nuclear weapons program

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PYONGYANG, North Korea - After being notoriously secret about a major military parade that it had been planning for months, North Korea finally held its massive military parade, which came just on eve of the Olympics.

For months now, experts tracking North Korea’s nuclear weapons program have wondered about the silence from the region, that has continuously been slapped with stricter sanctions over the last few months. 

Now, following North Korea’s military parade, which saw the country’s leader Kim Jong Un, who appeared with his wife, the First Lady Ro Sol Ju in the parade - many viewed the event closely.

The parade displayed short and older mid-range technology in what was perceived as a show of defiance against South Korea’s Olympic extravaganza.

Based on small pieces of information obtained from North Korean TV broadcasts, experts had suggested that the parade would begin at around 1:00pm AEST but there was no confirmation from Pyongyang on the same. 

Some suggested it wouldn’t happen, others believed it had already taken place.

However, the truth came from Paektu Cultural Exchange’s Michael Spavor, who was on the scene, and tweeted rare live footage.

Spavor tweeted that huge numbers of military trucks appear to be travelling along the Taedong River heading towards Kim Il-sung Square. 

He also posted that roads are starting to be blocked and cars are being diverted, in preparation for the big event.

AFP’s Seoul correspondent, Hawon Jung later said that the crowd could be heard shouting “You did a great job,” at the passing troops. 

Further, marchers had been captured in aerial footage going through rehearsals for the parade in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, which was reportedly pushed forward thanks to the Winter Olympics schedule.

The publication said in a report, “A diplomatic source told CNN the event is expected to include of ‘hundreds’ of missiles and rockets in an attempt ‘to scare the hell out of the Americans.’”

A leading North Korea expert Dr Leonid Petrov said in a report, “It’s an important distraction. It’s to show how loyal the army is and to demonstrate the loyalty of the people.”

The parade took place on the same day as North Korean athletes began arriving at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, dubbed the “Peace Olympics.”

According to reports available, residents in Pyongyang were in a “festive” and “friendly” mood on the country’s national holiday, despite the temperatures dropping to a cool -16C.

However, unsurprisingly, North Korean TV remained tight-lipped over what to expect, with only a tweet from the DPRK News Service signalling supreme leader Kim Jong Un’s “potent and virile” parade.

Despite the lack of information on the exact nature of the parade or what to expect - many experts had expected the parade to show off North Korea’s ballistic missile technology.

It would be the first show of force since North Korea’s “Day of the Sun” parade on April 15 last year, to celebrate the birth of Kim Il-sung, the country’s founder and Kim Jong-un’s grandfather.

Sources had expected dozens of Hwasong-15 ICBMs on display but none of the ICBMs were reportedly initially viewed in commercial satellite imagery. 

Later, footage released by Korean Central Television showed a trailer carrying the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which the North claims is capable of reaching the mainland U.S., rolled through Kim Il-sung Square.

Other weapons on display included Hwasong-12 and Hwasong-14 ballistic missiles, various types of artilleries, tanks and armored vehicles.

FURTHER, a group of warplanes briefly flew over the venue in formation, creating the number 70 with aerobatic smoke to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of its armed forces.

 

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