At a parade on Thursday night, North Korea has displayed what appears to be a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), according to reports from the state media. The development caps more than a week of political meetings with a show of military might.
State media report showed the North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un clad in a leather coat and fur hat smiling and waving as he oversaw the parade in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square.
The night parade showcased North Korea’s military hardware including tanks, rocket launches and marching soldiers.
According to analysts, North Korea displayed what appeared to be new variants of short-range ballistic missiles as well as SLBMs which rolled into the square on trucks.
“The world’s most powerful weapon, submarine-launch ballistic missiles, entered the square one after another, powerfully demonstrating the might of the revolutionary armed forces,” reported North Korea’s news agency KCNA.
North Korea has test-fired several SLBMs from underwater, and analysts say it is seeking to develop an operational submarine to carry the missiles.
According to photos released by the state media, the SLBM was labelled as Pukguksong-5, potentially marking an upgrade over the Pukguksong-4 that was unveiled at a larger military parade in October.
“The new missile definitely looks longer,” tweeted Michael Duitsman, a researcher at the California-based James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS).
According to Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, although the intention of the parade was not to cause a provocation nonetheless it underscores worrying signs of Pyongyang’s priorities.
“The economy is severely strained from pandemic border closures, policy mismanagement and international sanctions,” said Easley. “Despite or perhaps because of this, Kim Jong Un feels the need to devote scarce resources to another political-military display.”
On Wednesday, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of Kim Jong Un and a member of the ruling party’s Central Committee, criticised South Korea’s military for saying it had detected signs of a parade in Pyongyang on Sunday.
North Korean officials have been meeting in Pyongyang for the first party congress since 2016.