(2nd LD) In military parade, N. Korean leader vows to strengthen nuclear power
(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with details; MODIFIES headline; ADDS photos)
By Yi Wonju and Chae Yun-hwan
SEOUL, April 26 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared a resolve to further strengthen his regime's nuclear capabilities, as the country showcased a "giant" intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at a military parade earlier this week, according to its state media Tuesday.
Delivering a speech during the event, Kim vowed to boost the country's nuclear capabilities at "the fastest rate" at the nighttime parade to celebrate the 90th founding anniversary of the Korean People's Revolutionary Army (KPRA) held Monday, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
The KPRA is the anti-Japanese guerilla force known to have been created by national founder Kim Il-sung in 1932.
Kim added that the North will make thorough preparations for using nuclear "deterrence" anytime.
"Our basic mission regarding nuclear power is to deter war but our nuclear weapons cannot be confined solely within the boundaries of preventing a war until a situation is created that we never hope to witness in this land," Kim was quoted as saying.
Among major weapons displayed was the North's Hwasong-17 ICBM, which it claims to have test-fired last month. It is called a "monster missile."
"At that moment the spectators raised loud cheers, greatly excited to see the giant ICBM Hwasongpho-17 which soared into sky on March 24 to demonstrate the absolute power of Juche Korea and the strategic position of our Republic to the world," the KCNA reported, calling the ballistic missile "a great entity representing the strategic forces."
He also warned that any force seeking military confrontation will cease to exist, saying that the North is "thoroughly prepared" to carry out its mission of nuclear deterrence anytime.
"If any force seeks to infringe upon the fundamental interests of our nation, our nuclear forces will have no choice but to carry out the second mission," he said.
Top officials attended the parade, along with Kim's wife, Ri Sol-ju. It was not immediately known whether the leader's powerful sister Kim Yo-jong attended the parade.
Monday's parade was initially expected to begin early on Monday, but it did not proceed amid a forecast of rainfall.
Earlier, an informed source said the North kicked off the parade at Kim Il Sung Square at around 10 p.m. Monday.
It marks the North's first military parade to celebrate the KPRA anniversary and 12th major military parade under the leadership of Kim, who took power about a decade ago.
The North has typically held such parades on the birth anniversary of national founder Kim Il-sung on April 15, the founding anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party on Oct. 10 or the nation's foundation on Sept. 9.
The latest parade came amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula and concerns the North could conduct a nuclear test after it successfully test-fired a massive ICBM last month, marking its first test-launch since 2017.
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