North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has showcased nuclear-capable missiles and new attack drones with a large military parade in the capital Pyongyang.
Kim oversaw the parade to mark “Victory Day”, North Korea’s name for the end of hostilities in the 1950-53 Korean War, on Thursday night while accompanied by visiting delegations from China and Russia.
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The parade featured North Korea’s Hwasong-17 and Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missiles and a flyover by new attack and spy drones, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Friday.
“Strategic unmanned reconnaissance aircraft and multipurpose attack drones newly developed and produced … flew in demonstrations while circling in the sky over [Kim Il Sung Square], doubling the joy of the people celebrating,” the KCNA said.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chinese ruling party official Li Hongzhong, the first foreign dignitaries to visit Pyongyang since the COVID-19 pandemic, watched the parade with Kim from a balcony overlooking the capital.
North Korean state media said earlier that Kim and Shoigu had viewed a military exhibition together and held talks on military matters related to the “regional and international security environment”.
“China’s representation at North Korea’s parading of nuclear-capable missiles raises serious questions about Beijing enabling Pyongyang’s threats to global security,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Ewha University in Seoul.
“Given Russia’s need for ammunition for its illegal war in Ukraine and Kim Jong Un’s willingness to personally give the Russian defence minister a tour of North Korea’s arms exhibition, UN member states should increase vigilance for observing and penalising sanctions violations.”
Kim’s latest showcase of military power comes at a time of elevated tensions on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has carried out repeated weapons tests this year, including several launches of the Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile, which Pyongyang has described as its most powerful weapon yet.
Russia and China are among the few countries to maintain friendly relations with the North, which has been heavily sanctioned and censured over its development of nuclear weapons and missiles.
Moscow and Beijing have stymied United States-led efforts at the United Nations Security Council to ramp up sanctions targeting Pyongyang’s weapons programmes.
The North has backed Russia’s view of the war in Ukraine, blaming Western hegemony for forcing Moscow to take military action to protect its security.
US President Joe Biden’s administration has accused the Kim regime of providing weapons to Russian forces in Ukraine, which Pyongyang has denied.