South Korea marked its army’s 65th anniversary by holding its largest military parade to date, displaying long-range missiles described as a deterrent to the threat posed by North Korea.
In the largest show of force in decades, the ballistic missiles were paraded at Tuesday’s event in Seoul as the South’s president, Park Geun-hye, warned of the “very grave” threat posed by the North.
“We must build a strong anti-North deterrence until the day the North drops its nuclear arms and makes the right choice for its people and for peace on the Korean peninsula,” said Park.
About 11,000 troops, 190 weapons systems and other equipment and 120 aircraft were featured in the ceremony.
The missiles, the Hyeonmu-2 with a range of 300km and Hyeonmu-3 with a range of more than 1,000km, were described by the government as having “surgical accuracy”.
“It is a precision-guided weapon that can identify and strike the office window of the North’s command headquarters,” ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said.
They were first unveiled in February after the North conducted its third nuclear test. That test triggered two months of heightened tension, with Pyongyang threatening pre-emptive nuclear strikes on South Korea and the United States.
That tension has since eased, but there is concern that the North is expanding its production of weapons-grade nuclear material at its Yongbyon reactor.
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel attended the South’s parade during a 4-day visit to underscore his country’s commitment to its alliance with South Korea.
Hagel said there were no plans to cut the 28,500 US troops stationed on the heavily fortified Korean border.
South Korea is barred by international conventions from developing nuclear arms but recently reached a deal with the US to extend the range of its conventional missiles to better counter the threat from the North.