North Korea holds military parade without showing intercontinental ballistic missiles
Although North Korea stages military parades almost every year, Sunday’s parade comes at a particularly sensitive time
North Korea did not display intercontinental ballistic missiles that can target the United States at a military parade on Sunday, signalling leader Kim Jong-un’s desire to refrain from provoking US President Donald Trump for the resumption of denuclearisation talks.
At the parade staged on the 70th anniversary of the country’s founding, North Korea also emphasised its friendship with China, with many political analysts saying Kim is willing to ensure support from Beijing to promote negotiations with Washington.
Kim, clad in a black Mao-style suit, reviewed the military parade from a balcony overlooking Kim Il-sung Square, the central Pyongyang area named after his grandfather and North Korea’s founder. However, he did not use the occasion to deliver a public speech.
At the end of the parade, Kim and Li Zhanshu, the third-highest ranking official in the ruling Communist Party of China, raised hands together and waved to the audience from the balcony.
Sunday’s military parade was the first since Kim and Trump held their historic summit meeting in June in Singapore. All eyes were on whether ICBMs would be rolled out at the parade.
Although Kim promised Trump in June to achieve “complete” denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula in return for security guarantees from Washington, scepticism has been lingering about North Korea’s intention to implement concrete measures toward it.
But in talks with special envoys of South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday in Pyongyang, Kim reiterated his commitment to attaining denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula, Seoul said.
Trump has welcomed Kim’s latest commitment, fanning expectations that US-North Korea negotiations will move forward.
North Korea, meanwhile, has deepened relations with China. Since March, Kim has visited China three times for summit talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Beijing and Pyongyang have agreed to boost their economic ties.
China and North Korea fought together in the 1950-1953 Korean war against the US-led United Nations Command. The two countries have been described as “blood brothers”.
Beijing has sought to play a pivotal role in any discussions on replacing the Korean war armistice with a peace treaty.
Kim has recently pledged to bolster the nation’s economy instead of developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Along Pyongyang’s main roads, banners or placards with slogans lambasting the United States are nowhere to be seen.
North Korea has also agreed to hold a summit meeting between Moon and Kim in Pyongyang on September 18-20, the South Korean government said.
Around 140 foreign journalists have been granted access to cover events related to the founding anniversary, including the military parade in the heart of the capital and mass games in the city’s May Day Stadium.
The military parade was North Korea’s first since February 8 this year, when the country celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army.
At the February parade, Pyongyang displayed what appeared to be intercontinental ballistic missiles like the Hwasong-15 missile, capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to any city on the US mainland, in a thinly veiled threat to Washington.