North Korea’s Kim Jong Un presides over big military parade

Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies via AP
This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows a military parade on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has presided over a huge military parade in the capital, where troops rolled out the latest hardware of his fast-growing nuclear arsenal that fuels tensions with his neighbors and the United States.

North Korean state media photos of the parade published Thursday showed Kim attended the event with his wife and young daughter. He was smiling and raising his hand from a balcony as thousands of troops lined up in a brightly illuminated Kim Il Sung Square, named after his state-founding grandfather.

The parade Wednesday night marked the 75th founding anniversary of North Korea’s army and came after weeks of preparations involving huge numbers of troops and civilians mobilized to glorify Kim’s rule and his relentless push to cement the North’s status as a nuclear power.

State media didn’t immediately confirm other details about the parade, including whether Kim delivered a speech or the types of weapons that were showcased.

Commercial satellite images of the parade released by Maxar Technologies Inc. showed huge, missile-carrying trucks passing the square’s main road as thousands of spectators watched.

North Korean military parades are closely watched by outside governments and experts as they often feature newly developed weapons the North intends to test or deploy.

Some experts had anticipated that North Korea would use the parade to showcase a new solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile, which would potentially be a crucial addition to the country’s long-range arsenal targeting the U.S. mainland.

Kim in December had supervised a test of a “high-thrust solid-fuel motor” for a new strategic weapon he said would be developed in the “shortest span of time,” which experts said likely referred to a solid-fuel ICBM.

The use of solid fuel potentially offers greater mobility for missiles and reduces the amount of launch preparation time. All of the ICBMs the North has flight-tested since 2017 used liquid propellants.

Solid-fuel ICBMs highlighted an extensive wish list Kim announced under a five-year arms development plan in 2021, which also included tactical nuclear weapons, hypersonic missiles, nuclear-powered submarines and spy satellites.

The parade came a day after Kim brought his daughter, Kim Ju Ae, to visit troops to mark the anniversary as he lauded the “irresistible might” of his nuclear-armed military.

Kim Ju Ae is believed to be 9 or 10 years old. Analysts say Kim’s decision to bring his daughter to public events tied to his military is to remind the world he has no intention to voluntarily surrender his nuclear weapons, which he apparently sees as the strongest guarantee of his survival and the extension of his family’s dynastic rule.