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(2nd LD) N.K. likely to unveil new ICBM during parade: sources

Defense 18:38 October 09, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with Korea's state TV likely to broadcast pre-recorded military parade on Sunday in paras 7-8, minor edits)

SEOUL, Oct. 9 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has shown signs of preparing to unveil a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) during a military parade expected to take place on Saturday to mark the 75th founding anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party, sources said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could also deliver an address during the event, the sources said.

"Preparations for the parade are at the final stage, and North Korea is likely to go ahead with it as widely expected," a military official said.

During a parliamentary audit earlier this week, Seoul's Defense Minister Suh Wook said that the North is expected to mobilize strategic weapons in a show of force, and the unification ministry noted that the possible display of newly developed weapons would aim at strengthening internal unity amid economic difficulties.

The upcoming parade has drawn keen attention, as the communist country could unveil new strategic weapons that leader Kim pledged to show off in his New Year's message, such as an ICBM and a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).

The Seoul government reportedly detected signs that Kim Jong-un will deliver a speech during the parade.

Initially, there was a possibility that the Korean Central Television could air the parade live, but it appears that the state-run broadcaster could record the parade and air it on Sunday.

In April 2017, North Korea broadcast live a military parade to mark the 105th birth anniversary of Kim's grandfather, the late North Korea founder Kim Il-sung.

At that time, the regime showed off a new ICBM and diverse types of weapons, and the then-vice chairman of the party delivered a speech to warn of war if the U.S. takes military action.

This photo, released on April 16, 2017, by the Rodong Sinmun, a daily of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, shows presumed-to-be new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) first disclosed at a military parade at Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang to mark the 105th birth anniversary of the late North Korea founder Kim Il-sung the previous day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

North Korea tends to mark every fifth or 10th anniversary with larger-scale events, such as missile launches and parades of troops and advanced military hardware.

Chances for the North to test-launch such strategic weapons this time remain low, but the authorities are closely monitoring related movements in close coordination with the United States, the Seoul official added.

Last month, North Korea built a structure on an uninhabited island in the East Sea, which is presumed to be used as a target for its test-firing of missiles, according to Rep. Yoon Ju-keyng of the main opposition People Power Party.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Won In-choul said Thursday that the military "bears in mind diverse possibilities" regarding those activities, vowing a staunch readiness posture.

Hwasong-15 missiles on mobile launchers are displayed during a military parade at Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang on Feb. 8, 2018, in this photo released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency the next day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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