North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has warned that his country would “fully mobilise” its nuclear force, also unveiling new additions to the country’s weapons arsenal.
A massive military parade in Pyongyang, to mark the 75th anniversary of the North’s ruling party, saw what appeared to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) wheeled out for public display.
In a speech, Mr Kim addressed heavy US-led sanctions resulting from failed denuclearisation talks and the domestic impact of the coronavirus.
He said: “If any force harms the safety of our nation, we will fully mobilise the strongest offensive might in a pre-emptive manner to punish them,” adding that North Korea was not targeting any specific country with its military force.
An array of weapons on show included what appeared to be the North’s biggest ICBM seen to date – mounted on an 11-axle launch vehicle.
New capabilities, if made operational, would demonstrate the country’s improved weapons stock during a nuclear negotiation stalemate with the US Trump administration.
Mr Kim pledged in December that he would continue to bolster his nuclear arsenal amid “gangster-like” US pressure and soon unveil a “new strategic weapon to the world”.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff had said early on Saturday that there were signs that the North had mobilised “large crowds and equipment” for a military parade at Kim Il Sung Square early in the morning.
During his speech, Mr Kim thanked the public for adhering to COVID-19 measures imposed in recent months, while expressing hope for restored relations with the South.
North Korea claims to have been completely free of coronavirus so far.
Cover image: Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).