North Korea flaunts long-range missiles in massive parade

In this image made from video broadcast by North Korean broadcaster KRT North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un salutes during a parade at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang Saturday

In this image made from video broadcast by North Korean broadcaster KRT North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un salutes during a parade at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang Saturday

North Korea saw the toppling of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Moammar Gadhafi in Libya - neither of whom had nuclear weapons - as proof of the weapons' power.

But U.S. officials told The Associated Press on Friday that the Trump administration had settled on a policy that will emphasize increasing pressure on Pyongyang with the help of China, North Korea's only major ally, instead of military options or trying to overthrow Kim's regime.

After the USA launched cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase and "the mother of all bombs" over territory held by "Islamic State" militants in Afghanistan, some analysts have warned that the U.S. may also take military action against Pyongyang.

Tension has risen since the U.S. Navy fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airfield last week in response to a deadly gas attack, raising concerns about U.S. President Donald Trump's plans for North Korea, which has conducted missile and nuclear tests in defiance of United Nations and bilateral sanctions.

"The US introduces into the Korean peninsula, the world's biggest hotspot, huge nuclear strategic assets. pushing the situation there to the brink of a war", it said according to the North's official news agency KCNA.

Rows of military bands and goose-stepping and sword-wielding soldiers marched through Pyongyang's main Kim Il-sung square for the "Day of the Sun" celebrations, as a black-suited Kim Jong-un watched. Pictures on state television showed thousands of soldiers marching in formation alongside tanks, balloons and enormous crowds.

Pyongyang has also expressed anger over the ongoing annual spring military exercises the US holds with South Korea, which it considers a rehearsal for invasion.

"Today's parade will provide a chance to display our powerful military might", a male voiceover said on the TV broadcast.

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Mr. Wang's comments mirrored a warning from the North Korean Foreign Ministry's Institute for Disarmament and Peace which said "thermo-nuclear war may break out any moment".

The reclusive state has always been on a quest to develop a long-range missile capable of hitting the USA mainland with a nuclear warhead, and has so far staged five atomic tests, two of them a year ago.

The US cruise missile strike on Syria vindicated its stance, it said last weekend. Also on display was a powerful midrange missile that outside analysts call a "Musudan", and which can potentially reach US air bases in Guam, as well as a new solid-fuel midrange missile that can be fired from land mobile launchers, making them harder to detect before launch.

The parade also featured North Korea's new solid-fuel missiles, which can be fired from land or under the sea. Coal sales are an important source of revenue for Kim Jong Un's government, and the US says China has turned back some shipments in recent days.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly said he will prevent Pyongyang from its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile capable of reaching the mainland United States. USA satellite imagery suggests the country could conduct another underground nuclear test at any time.

Mr Trump and China's President Xi Jinping have been in contact by phone since their summit last weekend in Florida, and Reuters quotes United States officials as saying tougher economic sanctions against North Korea are also being considered.

Other senior officials joining Kim at the parade podium included Kim Won Hong, who the South Korean government had said earlier this year was sacked from his job as state security minister, presumably over corruption. These missiles concern South Korea because they're harder to detect before launch than liquid-fuel missiles, which need to be filled with fuel before launch and also require fuel trucks and other vehicles that could be spotted by satellites.

The Nikkei business daily said government discussions included how to rescue the estimated 57,000 Japanese citizens in South Korea as well as how to cope with a possible flood of North Korean refugees coming to Japan, among whom might be North Korean spies and agents.

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