North Korea on Saturday displayed what appeared to be new long-range and submarine-based missiles at a massive military parade celebrating the 105th birth anniversary of the nation’s founding president, Kim Il-sung.
The parade, attended by leader Kim Jong-un, saw thousands of soldiers marching through the capital, Pyongyang.
Weapons analysts said they believed some of the missiles on display were new types of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), enclosed in canister launchers mounted on the back of trucks.
North Korea’s Pukkuksong submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) were also on parade. It was the first time North Korea had shown the missiles, which have a range of more than 1,000km, at a military parade.
State television showed Kim, wearing a black suit and white shirt, stepping out of a black limousine and saluting his honour guard before walking down a red carpet.
He then walked up to a podium and clapped with senior government officials to address the thousands of soldiers and a massive crowd taking part in the parade.
The display suggested that Pyongyang was working towards a “new concept” of ICBM, Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the US-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California, told the Reuters news agency.
“However, North Korea has a habit of showing off new concepts in parades before they ever test or launch them,” Hanham said. “It is still early days for these missile designs”.
Joshua Pollack, editor of the Washington-based Nonproliferation Review, told Reuters that the display indicates North Korea is progressing with its plan to base missiles on submarines, which are hard to detect.
“It suggests a commitment to this programme,” said Pollack. “Multiple SLBMs seems like a declaration of intent to advance the programme”.
Al Jazeera’s Craig Leeson, reporting from Seoul, in the South, said Kim Il-sung’s birthday, also known as the Day of the Sun, is a day for celebration in North Korea, but also a day for analysts to observe the military parade.
“What we’ve seen already is that it’s a very large parade. We had expected it would possibly be the largest that they’ve held,” our correspondent said.