North Korea unveils ‘world’s most powerful weapon’

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SEOUL, Jan. 14 (UPI) — North Korea held a military parade in Pyongyang and unveiled a new submarine-launched ballistic missile it called the “world’s most powerful weapon,” state media reported on Friday, days ahead of the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden.

The parade was held Thursday night in Kim Il Sung Square to commemorate the closing of the weeklong Eighth Congress of the ruling Workers’ Party, state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.

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During the congress, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called the United States the “principal enemy” and called on his reclusive state to bolster its military and nuclear capabilities.

Kim Jong Un viewed the parade, which featured columns of marching infantrymen, tanks and “rockets possessed of powerful striking capability for thoroughly annihilating enemies in a preemptive way outside the territory,” KCNA wrote. Fireworks and fighter-jet flyovers were also part of the spectacle.

New weapons unveiled included an SLBM, labeled the Pukguksong-5 in photos of the parade released by state media.

“The world’s most powerful weapon, submarine-launch ballistic missile, entered the square one after another, powerfully demonstrating the might of the revolutionary armed forces,” KCNA wrote.

Analysts also spotted a new short-range solid-fuel missile in images from the parade.

Joseph Dempsey, research associate for defense and military analysis at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, wrote on Twitter that the new missile is “outwardly similar to the KN-24,” a solid-fuel missile that resembles the U.S. Army’s MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System.

North Korea first test-fired the KN-24 in August 2019. Details about the new missile remain unclear, but during an address at the party congress this week, Kim Jong Un said that North Korea was developing tactical nuclear weapons.

Thursday’s display comes just months after North Korea held a military parade in October to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Worker’s Party. That parade introduced the Pukguksong-4 SLBM and a massive new intercontinental ballistic missile on an 11-axle truck which analysts have said is the world’s largest mobile ICBM.

North Korea put on its latest show of military strength less than a week before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20.

After a period of high-profile detente, Washington’s nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang have been at a standstill for nearly two years following a Feb. 2019 summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump which failed to reach an agreement.

The administration of President-elect Biden has given little indication of its diplomatic intentions towards North Korea. During a presidential debate in October, Biden called Kim Jong Un a “thug,” but said he would meet Kim “on the condition that he would agree that he would be drawing down his nuclear capacity.”