North Korea showcased its latest missiles in a large military parade Thursday on the eve of the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Held at Kim Il Sung Square in the capital city of Pyongyang, the parade included hundreds of soldiers and an assortment of military hardware.
The event, attended by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju, who arrived together by limousine, marks the day Kim Il Sung established the Korean People’s Army.
During a rare speech, Kim lambasted the United States and boasted of North Korea’s development into “a world-class military power.”
“As long as imperialism is present on the Earth and US’s hostile policy against North Korea continues, the mission of the Korea People’s Army to be the strong sword that protects the country and people, and peace can never change,” Kim said.
The North Korean leader also called for his military to remain combat ready in order to keep the United States from infringing upon “the republic’s sacred dignity and autonomy even by 0.001 millimeters.”
“The final victory lies to our party and people who is holding the gunstocks of revolution,” Kim said.
Following Kim’s address, numerous missiles were brought out including the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), believed to be capable of reaching any target on the U.S. mainland.
Several Hwasong-14 ICBMs, Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) and Pukgukgsong-2 solid-fuelled IRBMs were also observed.
No new weapons were revealed during the event and some experts believe the parade, noticeably smaller than last year’s, was designed to not provoke ahead of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchan, South Korea.
“They wanted to keep a low profile (so as) not to aggravate the current situation,” a witness to the parade told NK News. “Some Chinese tourists said the DPRK doesn’t want to cause trouble before the Olympics.”
While U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who will lead the U.S. delegation to the Olympics’ opening ceremony Friday, hinted during a press conference in Japan Wednesday that the U.S. was not opposed to meeting with North Korean officials during the games, Pyongyang stated Thursday that it was uninterested.
“We have no intention to meet with the U.S. side during the stay in South Korea,” a top Foreign Ministry official was quoted as saying. “We are not going to use such a sports festival as the Winter Olympics as a political lever. There is no need to do so.”
Pence also announced during the Tokyo press conference that the U.S. was preparing to unveil the “most aggressive” sanctions ever against North Korea.
“I’m announcing today that the United States of America will soon unveil the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever,” Pence said. “We will continue to isolate North Korea until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile program once and for all.”
On Wednesday North Korea accused U.S. President Donald Trump of being “dolt-like” for planning a potential “bloody nose” strike against Pyongyang.
The commentary appeared to be in response to Trump’s State of the Union address in which he chastised “the cruel dictatorship in North Korea.”
“North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland. We need only look at the depraved character of the North Korean regime to understand the nature of the nuclear threat it could pose to America and to our allies,” Trump said.