North Korea unveiled a giant intercontinental ballistic missile on Saturday during an imposing military parade, a show of force for the regime in the face of Covid-19 as well, President Kim Jong-un assuring an unmasked crowd that no case is was recorded in the country.
The intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), placed on a tractor-erector-launcher, which had no less than 11 axles, paraded on Kim Il Sung Square (named after the founder of the regime), which overlooked the platform of the northern leader -Korean, according to state television channel KCTV.
It is “the largest mobile liquid-combustion missile ever seen to date,” tweeted Akit Panda of the Federation of American Scientists, an NGO scrutinizing nuclear risks.
The parade was held to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers’ Party in the nuclear-weapon country.
“We will continue to strengthen our army, for the purpose of self-defense and deterrence,” the North Korean leader in gray suit told the crowd in a speech broadcast on state television.
“If you don’t have the strength, you will have to wipe away the tears and the blood that will flow from your two clenched fists,” he added.
The ICBM was preceded by a Pukguksong-4a, a new submarine-launched sea-to-surface missile that would add a new dimension to the North Korean regime’s military arsenal.
According to the South Korean general staff, the military parade took place early Saturday morning, several hours before it was broadcast on television, and was “closely” watched by South Korean and American intelligence services.
At the end of December, the North Korean leader threatened to present a “new strategic weapon”, but some experts believe Pyongyang does not intend to anger the White House before the US presidential election.
For Leif-Eric Easley, professor at Ewha University in Seoul, it is not possible to know how well the equipment shown “really works”.
But “the weaponry on display at the parade is a serious reminder that North Korea should not be ignored,” he added.
Experts are convinced that North Korea has continued its nuclear and ballistic programs, justified by the American threat, including during negotiations with the United States, in an impasse for more than a year.
– Without mask or distance –
Unlike previous fashion shows, no foreign media were invited this year. Many embassies are closed due to coronavirus restrictions, limiting the number of foreign observers.
During the parade, the various military units followed one another in the square under the eyes of a Kim Jong-un who was sometimes smiling and joking with his generals.
Squadrons of fighter jets flew over the city, dropping flares, and then armored vehicles and missiles marched through the streets.
None of the participants or anyone in the audience wore a mask.
In fact, Kim Jong-un assured that there was “not a single person” with coronavirus in his country as the pandemic affected the whole world. Visibly moved, he repeatedly thanked his fellow citizens for their efforts.
At the head of a country with a very weak health system, Kim Jong-un decided in January to close the borders of North Korea in order to prevent the spread of the epidemic that began in neighboring China.
The North Korean leader also wished “good health to all people around the world who fight the evils of the evil virus”, while US President Donald Trump, who tested positive, was recently hospitalized.
Harry Kazianis of the Center for National Interest, a research center, notes that social distancing was also not on the agenda during the military parade.
“Some would say this is a show of force, but such demagoguery is sheer madness,” he said. “The regime is playing with the lives of its people”.