North Korea showcased almost a dozen advanced intercontinental ballistic missiles at a nighttime military parade on Wednesday, in the biggest display yet of what its state-run media described as Pyongyang’s “nuclear attack capability.”
The missiles were paraded through Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung square as leader Kim Jong Un, accompanied by his wife, and a young girl believed to be his daughter looked on.
The widely anticipated event, which marked the founding anniversary of the North Korean army, comes less than two months after Kim called for an “exponential increase” in his country’s nuclear arsenal in response to what he claims are threats from South Korea and the United States.
Last year saw North Korea test more missiles than at any time in its history, including an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could in theory strike the US mainland.
That missile, the Hwasong-17, is what analysts said was showcased on Wednesday night.
“It looks like 10-12 Hwasong-17 ICBMs made an appearance. This is cumulatively more ICBM launchers than we’ve ever seen before at a North Korean parade,” Ankit Panda, a nuclear policy expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said on social media.
Panda said if each missile were equipped with multiple nuclear warheads, they could represent enough volume to overwhelm US ballistic missile defenses.
The unprecedented display appears to show Kim is following through on his pledge to equip the country with a nuclear arsenal that can threaten the US.
Besides the Hwasong-17, analysts said North Korea showed off what could be a mockup of a new solid-fueled ICBM, which, if it were to become operational, would give Pyongyang a more mobile and harder to detect nuclear missile.
Solid-fueled rockets are more stable than the liquid-fueled ones like the Hwasong-17. That means a solid-fueled ICBM could be moved more easily and launched more quickly than a liquid-fueled one.
North Korea said in December it had successfully tested a solid-fueled rocket motor.