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(2nd LD) N.K. at final stage of preparations for military parade: defense ministry

All News 19:15 October 07, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS defense minister's remarks on new submarine in last 3 paras, photo)

SEOUL, Oct. 7 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is at the final stage of preparing for a military parade expected to be held in Pyongyang this weekend to mark the founding anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party, the defense ministry said Wednesday.

The Oct. 10 anniversary of the party's founding 75 years ago has drawn attention as the North could showcase new strategic weapons on the occasion in what could be seen as messages to the United States, or South Korea, amid stalled denuclearization talks.

In a report to the parliament for an annual audit, the ministry said North Korea is "at the final stage of preparing for events, including a military parade, to mark the 75th founding anniversary of the Workers' Party."

"(North Korea) appears to be preparing for various events ... and our assessment is that it is expected to engage in a show of force involving strategic weapons," Defense Minister Suh Wook said during the audit session.

North Korea tends to mark every fifth or 10th anniversary with larger-scale events, such as military provocations, including missile launches, or parades of troops, newly developed strategic weapons and other military hardware.

In his New Year's message, leader Kim Jong-un said he will showcase a "new strategic weapon," which could be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), according to experts and observers.

This satellite image, taken by Planet Labs on Aug. 31, 2020, and made public by 38 North on Sept. 1, shows the Mirim Airport in Pyongyang, where preparations for a large-scale military parade are under way to celebrate the 75th anniversary of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Asked about the military's assessment about the North's construction of a new submarine, the defense minister said that it is believed to be capable of carrying "more SLBMs" than existing 2,000-ton Gorae-class subs that can launch one ballistic missile.

"Our analysis shows that North Korea continues to have evolved it into new shapes, so we are closely monitoring related activities," Suh said.

The regime unveiled the new submarine, believed to be a 3,000-ton one, in July 2019, which has been under construction at its naval base in Sinpo on its east coast. It is widely known to be capable of carrying three to four SLBMs.

This photo, released by the Korean Central News Agency on July 23, 2019, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) inspecting a newly built submarine. As is customary, the agency didn't provide the date and location. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

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