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(3rd LD) N. Korea holds smaller, low-key military parade

All Headlines 19:17 February 08, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES lead paras with leader's address, other details; ADDS photos)

SEOUL, Feb. 8 (Yonhap) -- North Korea released TV footage of a military parade in Pyongyang on Thursday, which defense officials here said was curtailed both in length and program from last year's parade.

The North showed off what appears to be a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which it claims is capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.

The show of the "strategic force" came as leader Kim Jong-un inspected goose-stepping soldiers and various weapons streaming through Kim Il-sung Square in the capital city. No submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) was seen in the footage made public by Korean Central Television

The event was to mark the founding day of its armed forces, a day before the Winter Olympics begin in South Korea.

Kim, wearing a black coat and felt hat, earlier address the troops.

He described the North's 1.1-million-strong military as a powerful "treasure sword" to defend the country from the United States' hostile policy.

"We will have to prevent aggressors from attempting to infringe or ridicule our dignity and sovereignty even by 0.001 millimeter," he told the troops.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un salutes back to troops during a military parade in Pyongyang on Feb. 8, 2018, in this photo captured from footage released by the North's state broadcaster. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

He added that the parade would demonstrate the North's status as a world-class military power.

South Korea's military officials said the parade was apparently smaller than the previous one, which began at 10:05 a.m. on April 15 last year, finished at 12:56 p.m. and was broadcast live.

The event was to commemorate the 105th anniversary of the birth of the nation's founding leader Kim Il-sung.

"South Korea and the United States learned that North Korea's military parade started at 11:30 a.m. (Seoul time)," an official at the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters. The U.S. has advanced satellites closely monitoring the North's military activity.

It lasted only about one and a half hours and featured a "reduced program," according to the official, who asked not to be named.

In a rare move, the North also skipped the live broadcast of the street event, which outside observers view as an attempt to keep it low-key.

North Korea displays its Pukguksong submarine-launched ballistic missile during a military parade in Pyongyang on April 15, 2017, in a still taken from North Korean TV footage. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

The allies are analyzing the weapons and other equipment that appeared at Thursday's parade, the official said.

The secretive North had been preparing for the military event to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the creation of the Korean People's Army, according to multiple reports mainly based on satellite imagery.

A South Korean government source said the movement of missile-carrying transporter erector launchers (TELs) was detected, apparently as part of the preparations.

The North used to mark the military holiday on April 25, but it recently announced a date switch to Feb. 8.

A unit of North Korea's elite troops participate in a military parade in Pyongyang on Feb. 8, 2018, in this photo captured from footage released by the North's state broadcaster. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

Dismissing criticism about such a military event on the eve of the opening of the Olympics south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ), the North's state media said the scheduling had nothing to do with the global sports festival.

The parade came on the eve of a trip here by the North Korean leader's younger sister Kim Yo-jong as part of a high-profile delegation to the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Games.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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