All hail the great god of the sun
North Korea displayed what appeared to be new long-range and submarine-based missiles on the 105th birth anniversary of its founding father, Kim Il-Sung, on Saturday, as a nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier group steamed towards the region. Missiles appeared to be the main theme of a giant military parade, with Kim Il-Sung’s grandson, leader Kim JongUn, taking time to greet the commander of the Strategic Forces, the branch that oversees the missile arsenal.
A US navy attack on a Syrian airfield this month with Tomahawk missiles raised questions about US President Donald Trump’s plans for reclusive North Korea, which has conducted several missile and nuclear tests in defiance of UN sanctions, regularly threatening to destroy the US.
Kim Jong-Un, looking relaxed in a dark suit and laughing with aides, oversaw the festivities on the Day of the Sun at Pyongyang’s main Kim Il-Sung Square.
Goose-stepping soldiers and marching bands filled the square, followed by tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems and other weapons. Single-engine propeller-powered planes flew in a 105 formation overhead.
There did not appear to be a senior Chinese official in attendance. China is North Korea’s lone major ally, but has spoken out against its missile and nuclear tests and has supported UN sanctions. China on Friday again called for talks to defuse the crisis.
Weapons analysts said they believed some of the missiles on display were new types of intercontinental ballistic missiles. North Korea has said it had developed and would launch a missile that could strike mainland US, but experts doubt this.
Displaying more than one of the missiles indicates North Korea is progressing with its plan to base a missile on a submarine, which are hard to detect, said Joshua Pollack, editor of the Washington-based Nonproliferation Review.
“It suggests a commitment to this programme,” said Pollack. North Korea, still technically at war with South Korea after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, but not a treaty, has on occasion conducted missile or nuclear tests to coincide with big political events. Kim Jong-Un often threatens the US, South Korea and Japan.
Choe Ryong Hae, a close aide to Kim Jong-Un, sent a bellicose warning to the US.
“If the US wages reckless provocation against us, our revolutionary power will instantly counter with annihilating strike, and we will respond to full-out war with full-out war and to nuclear war with our style of nuclear strike warfare,” he said.
State news agency KCNA said the Trump administration’s “serious military hysteria” had reached a “dangerous phase that can no longer be overlooked”.
The US has warned that a policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea is over.
US vice-president Mike Pence travels to South Korea today on a long-planned 10-day trip to Asia.
China has also stepped up economic pressure on North Korea. It banned all imports of North Korean coal on February 26 under UN sanctions, cutting off the North’s most important export product.
China’s national airline, Air China, weeks ago cancelled some flights to Pyongyang, but said this was owing to poor demand.
KCNA was gushing in its praise of Kim Il-Sung, recalling the time he met former US president Jimmy Carter in 1994.
“Carter was so fascinated by his personality as to say that Kim Il-Sung was greater than [former US presidents] George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln put together, eulogising him as the great sun god of human destiny,” it said.
… the great sun god of human destiny … is greater than that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln put together
LINE OF DUTY North Korean soldiers march and shout slogans during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of the country’s founding father, Kim Il-Sung, in Pyongyang, North Korea