Long-range missiles missing from DPRK's military parade

Reuters
With no long-range missiles on display, the DPRK staged a military parade focused on conventional arms, peace and economic development to mark the 70th anniversary of its founding.
Reuters

With no long-range missiles on display, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea staged a military parade yesterday focused on conventional arms, peace and economic development to mark the 70th anniversary of the country’s founding.

Line upon line of goose-stepping soldiers and columns of tanks shook the ground before giving way to chanting crowds waving flags and flowers as they passed a review stand where DPRK leader Kim Jong Un sat with China’s top legislator Li Zhanshu, a special representative of Chinese President Xi Jinping, as well as other visiting foreigners.

Kim told Li, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, that the DPRK was focusing on economic development and hopes to learn from China’s experience in this regard, Chinese state television reported.

“The DPRK upholds the consensus of the Singapore meeting between the leaders of the DPRK and the United States and has taken steps for it and hopes the United States takes corresponding steps, to jointly promote the political resolution process for the peninsula issue,” the report quoted Kim as saying.

The parade highlighted themes of military accomplishment, national development and international engagement.

Unlike in previous years, there were no intercontinental missiles on display, underlining Kim’s stated aim for denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and his recent meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore.

The theme for the celebrations this year was economic development and unifying the Korean Peninsula, divided since World War II.

A huge float was decorated with a modern train, solar panels, wind power plants and dams, under a slogan of “All our might to build economy,” as DPRK men in construction work wear marched.

Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, gave a speech at the parade in which he said the country had achieved status as a military power, and would now pursue efforts to strengthen its economy.

Floats on unification also passed by a throng of DPRK people waving unified Korea flags.

“All Koreans should join forces to accomplish unification in our generation. Unification is the only way Koreans can survive,” said an editorial in DPRK’s party newspaper Rodong Sinmun.

Kim Jong Un and his South Korean counterpart Moon will meet in Pyongyang on September 18-20 for the third time this year and discuss “practical measures” toward denuclearization, officials in Seoul have said.

Despite stalled progress on talks with Washington, the DPRK leader wants to denuclearize the peninsula within Trump’s first term, according to South Korean officials.

Trump said on Friday that Kim has sent a letter to him, which he believes will be positive.

Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, said the military component of the parade appeared to be scaled down this year. “I am very curious to hear what is in the letter to Trump, because this parade could have been more provocative,” Hanham said.

Kim was seen laughing and holding hands up with China’s Li as he oversaw the festivities at Pyongyang’s main Kim Il Sung square on a clear autumn day. Kim waved to the crowd before leaving but did not make any public remarks.

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