Drones and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) took center stage at a nighttime military parade held by North Korea in downtown Pyongyang late Thursday to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.
The parade, which took place in Kim Il Sung Square, was attended by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and high-ranking officials from China and Russia, according to the state-controlled Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Friday.
The North observes the signing of the armistice on July 27, 1953, as a national holiday, calling it the “Day of Victory in the Great Fatherland Liberation War.”
Thursday marked the 70th anniversary of the end of armed hostilities in the war, which began with a North Korean invasion of South Korea on June 25, 1950. The war ended in a stalemate after U.S.-led United Nations forces repelled the initial invasion, but were forced back from the North by the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army.
The parade, which the North used to underline its claim of victory in the war, featured the regime’s latest hardware, including new aerial drones that closely resemble U.S. unmanned surveillance aircraft Global Hawk, Haeil underwater drones that the regime tested in March and April, and the regime’s much-touted Hwasong-17 liquid-fuel and Hwasong-18 solid-fuel ICBMs.
The North’s ballistic missiles, which are banned under multiple resolutions passed by the United Nations Security Council, were paraded in front of a Russian military delegation led by Sergei Shoigu, Moscow’s defense minister, and a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and government delegation headed by Li Hongzhong, a CCP Politburo member, with state media photos showing Kim standing between the two foreign dignitaries.
Both China and Russia are permanent veto-wielding members of the Security Council. The two countries have repeatedly vetoed or tabled efforts by the United States and other council members in recent years to pass additional sanctions against the North for its continued defiance of previous Security Council resolutions.
According to the KCNA, the “newly developed” aerial drones “hovered overhead in demonstration flights” during the parade, showcasing the regime’s progress in realizing a key item that had featured in Kim’s wish list of advanced weaponry.
The state news agency also described the Hwasong-18 ICBMs as the North’s “most powerful and crucial means” to “overwhelmingly” respond to purported nuclear threats from the regime’s enemies.
The Russian and Chinese delegations’ attendance at Thursday’s parade was not missed by the U.S. State Department, with spokesman Vedant Patel on Thursday characterizing their presence as imperiling international security by implicitly condoning the North’s development of banned weapons.
“Russia’s support for these unlawful weapons programs by blocking additional action at the Security Council, by participating in events in Pyongyang, celebrating these weapons and failing to crack down on DPRK’s sanction evasion activities — all of this just highlights how detrimental it has become to preserving international peace and security,” Patel said at a press briefing.
“I will also note that, as we have previously said, we believe that Beijing has influence over Pyongyang and we hope that it will use that influence to encourage Pyongyang to return to dialogue and refrain from destabilizing activities,” he added.
BY MICHAEL LEE [email@example.com]