North Korea exhibited its ballistic missiles and other military weaponry during a huge parade on Saturday to celebrate its founder's birthday. The military spectacle was organised amid rising tensions between Pyongyang and Washington.
Contrary to widespread speculations, North Korea did not carry out another ballistic missile launch or a nuclear test on the occasion of Kim Il Sung's 105th birthday. There are, however, concerns that the nation is possibly preparing for its sixth nuclear test or a missile launch soon.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un celebrates his grandfather's birthday every year with a great fanfare to boost his own legitimacy as the successor to the communist dynasty. State television showed Kim stepping out of a limousine, wearing black suit and a white shirt, and saluting his honour guard before walking down a red carpet.
The state TV also showed several KN-08 missiles being rolled out on trucks at the parade. According to military analysts, these missiles could one day be capable of hitting targets as far as the continental United States. Kim has warned the US of launching a pre-emptive nuclear strike, if the US nuclear forces mobilise against it.
North Korean soldiers reportedly paraded large rockets covered by canisters which were rolled out in two different types of transporter erector launcher trucks, or TELs. An official from South Korea's Defence Ministry could not immediately confirm whether any of the rockets paraded represented a new type of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), the Associated Press reported.
A North Korea expert at Seoul's Institute for Far Eastern Studies, Kim Dong-yub, told AP that the canisters and trucks seen during the parade suggested that North Korea was developing technology to "cold launch" ICBMs, which would eject missiles from the canisters before igniting.
Other weaponry exhibit during the parade included tanks, multiple rocket launchers and artillery guns, as well as a solid-fuel missile designed to be fired from submarines.
A United States Navy carrier strike group was headed towards the Korean Peninsula last week as America strengthens its defences against North Korea's elevating nuclear threats.
North Korea has carried out a total of five nuclear tests so far, and according to an expert satellite imagery analysis Pyongyang may be preparing for a sixth test soon.