SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea’s unprecedented nighttime military parade on Saturday showcased an unusually broad array of new weapons, from a show-stopping “monster” ballistic missile to previously unseen battle tanks.
The hardware, likely still in varying stages of development, offered leader Kim Jong Un a chance to show the world his cutting-edge military power while adding practical capabilities to the North Korea’s already formidable nuclear and conventional forces, experts said.
Kim is walking a fine line, seeking to increase pressure on the United States to ease sanctions while not destroying rapport with U.S. President Donald Trump or Pyongyang’s partners in China.
“Kim Jong Un’s speech was not threatening to the United States, instead labelling North Korea’s nuclear forces as self-defensive,” said Bruce Klingner, a retired CIA North Korea analyst now at the Heritage Foundation. “The clear message was that, counter to U.S. claims, the North Korean nuclear threat has not been solved.”
Video from the parade suggested a huge intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) potentially more lethal either because of multiple warheads or a bigger payload, larger missile carriers, a next-generation submarine-launched missile, and advances in conventional weaponry, military analysts said.
The star of Saturday’s show was a massive, previously unseen ICBM carried on an equally huge “transporter-erector-launcher” (TEL) vehicle with 11 axles.
Estimated to be 25 to 26 metres (82 to 85 feet) long and 2.5 to 2.9 metres (8 to 9.5 feet) in diameter, the unidentified missile would be the largest road-mobile ICBM in the world, military analysts said.