A military parade was held in Pyongyang to mark the end of the 8th congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea (TPK), the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. North Korean officials gathered in Pyongyang for the first party congress since 2016.
At the forum, Kim Jong-un announced a new five-year plan to revive the economy in the face of a crisis caused by coronavirus measures, natural disasters, and international sanctions on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
“The parade itself was not meant to be a provocation, but it was an alarming sign of Pyongyang’s priorities,”
– Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ihwa University in Seoul, told Reuters.
“Despite or perhaps because of this, Kim Jong-un feels the need to devote limited resources to such a politico-military event,” Leif-Eric Easley said.
An advanced submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) was demonstrated at a military parade in the DPRK capital, Kim Il Sung Square.
“The most powerful weapon in the world, the submarine ballistic missiles, came out on the square one after another, convincingly demonstrating the power of the revolutionary armed forces,” was how the North Korean news agency CTAC reported about the event.
The missiles in question were the Pukguksong-5, an upgraded version of the Pukguksong-4 SLBM, which was unveiled in October 2020.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, dressed in a leather coat and fur hat, smiled and waved as he watched the parade in Pyongyang’s Kim Il-sung Square.
“The new missile definitely looks longer,” said Michael Dwitsman, an expert at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California.
Unlike the October parade, Thursday’s event did not feature North Korea’s largest intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which are believed to be capable of delivering a nuclear warhead anywhere in the United States.
The U.S. Defense Department declined to comment on the Pyongyang parade.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said its chief nuclear weapons emissary discussed North Korea’s recent moves with his counterpart in the United States.
Suh Kun-yull, a professor at Seoul National University who specializes in nuclear technology, said the range and modernization of the SLBM, in this case, is not as important as the message Kim is trying to send by throwing a convention and military parade right before the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden.
“More importantly, it should be noted that this is a precursor to the resumption of nuclear testing that has been postponed,” he explained. – —
The North is preparing the ground before the Biden administration takes office.”
North Korea has not conducted a nuclear test or launched its long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles since 2017. But this time, Kim has made it clear that he no longer feels bound by this voluntary moratorium after denuclearization talks with U.S. President Donald Trump stalled, Reuters concludes.
On Wednesday, Kim Yo-Jeong, Kim Jong-un’s sister and a member of the Korean Workers’ Party Central Committee, called South Korean authorities “upper-class idiots” for what Seoul saw as signs of a Pyongyang parade being prepared earlier this week, the agency wrote.
A naval strategic nuclear force would greatly expand Kim Jong-un’s nuclear arsenal and challenge the United States, which not long ago outlined to the North Korean leader the threshold requirements for a possible continuation of the dialogue.
North Korea currently has several types of sea-based ballistic missiles.
The first of these is the Pukguksong-1 (Polar Star-1), with a range of 1,250-1,300 kilometers. The missile of this type was successfully launched from a submarine in August 2016. The specially built diesel-electric submarine, dubbed Sinpo-B in the West, is used to test SLBMs in North Korea. The submarine has a displacement of about 2,000 tonnes above water and is equipped with one ballistic missile silo.
“Pukguksong-2, by the way, is not a submarine ballistic missile. It is a land-based North Korean product.
North Korea’s Pukguksong-3 sea-based ballistic missile was first tested in early October 2019. According to the DPRK military, the missile then flew 450 km and rose to an altitude of 910 km. The range of the Pukguksong-3 is, according to some estimates, about 2,000 km.
The Pukguksong-3 is carried by a large diesel-electric missile-powered submarine Sinpo-C built at the Shipyard Sinpo South, which has a displacement of about 3000 tonnes above water and three SLBM silos.
Earlier, the new Pukguksong-4 SLBM was demonstrated at a grand military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the Korean Workers’ Party in October 2020.
Of course, North Korea has not disclosed the technical characteristics of the Pukguksong-4 missile, but there is speculation that the range of this product is from 1900 to 2000 km. That means that the missile is capable of hitting targets in parts of Japan and South Korea.
At this stage, North Korea has a relatively small nuclear arsenal. As Gazeta.ru wrote earlier, there is no accurate data on the number of deployed nuclear warheads (NWS) in North Korea. According to SIPRI, the number of NBCs in North Korea is currently between 30 and 40. In 2019, Kim Jong-un’s nuclear arsenal amounted to 20-30 warheads.