Peace overture? No ballistic missiles seen in North Korea’s 70th anniversary parade

10 September, 2018, 12:57 | Author: Lucy Floyd
  • Peace overture? No ballistic missiles seen in North Korea’s 70th anniversary parade

North Korea staged a military parade to celebrate the country's 70th anniversary Sunday - but markedly missing was the regime's collection of long-range ballistic missiles or any mention of its nuclear program.

Although North Korea stages military parades nearly every year, and held one just before the Olympics began in South Korea in February this year, the latest parade came at a particularly sensitive time.

That's a big departure from February's parade, when it displayed its Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile, believed capable of reaching the USA, and a number of other formidable missiles and the erector-launchers used to fire them off from remote locations.

At the end of the two-hour event he strolled to the edge of the balcony with the Chinese special envoy, Li Zhanshu, who is also the third-ranking member in China's ruling Communist Party.

Sunday's parade also emphasized the country's economy in addition to showcasing its military capabilities. Kim not only needs security backing from Beijing but help rebuilding his economy, which South Korea's central bank said slipped into recession in 2017.

While Kim did not speak, the head of North Korea's parliament Kim Yong Nam stressed in an opening speech that Pyongyang has achieved military power and that the country's new focus would be on economic development.

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Sunday is the 70th anniversary of the 1948 foundation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as the North is officially known, 3 years after Moscow and Washington divided the peninsula between them in the closing days of the Second World War.

Any display of longer-range missiles would have cast doubt on North Korea's commitment to denuclearisation, he added.

- This report was updated at 8:41 a.m.

This year's celebration, however, did not feature the isolated nation's most advanced missiles. "Much better than before I took office".

Thousands of dancers, gymnasts, martial artists and singers acted out scenes addressing familiar themes from North Korean propaganda, including the country's struggles to recover from the 1950-1953 Korean War, and a starvation in the 1990s.

After a June meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore and its third summit with the South's President Moon Jae-in due in Pyongyang later this month, the North is keen to send a different message to the past.

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Japan's Abe is set to meet Putin on Monday evening to discuss "boosting economic cooperation and commercial exchanges" but also to "exchange views on the situation on the Korean peninsula", said Russian presidential adviser Yuri Ushakov.

North Korea's state-run media published Friday what it said was an "indictment" by its South Korean wing, denouncing USA forces on the peninsula and calling their withdrawal "the irresistible trend of the times".

Floats on unification passed by a throng of North Koreans waving unified Korea flags.

And the issue of nuclear-armed North Korea will most likely not be the main topic in Vladivostok, said Andrei Lankov, a historian at Seoul's Kookmin University.

"That choice alone suggests Kim's intention to underline the seriousness of his "New Strategic Line, ' announced earlier this year that privileges the country's economic betterment after the 'completion" of the country's nuclear deterrent last year", said Ankit Panda, a strategic expert and adjunct senior fellow in the Defense Posture Project at the Federation of American Scientists.

Tickets to this year's spectacle started at just over US$100 and went up to more than US$800 per seat.

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