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WASHINGTON -- The United States government finds it "disappointing" that North Korea continues to prioritize its weapons development, a senior US official said Saturday, calling on the communist state to return to denuclearization negotiations.

The official, while speaking on condition of anonymity, said the US remains committed to the countries' denuclearization agreement signed by US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in their first bilateral summit held in Singapore in June 2018.

"It is disappointing to see the DPRK continuing to prioritize its prohibited nuclear and ballistic missile program," the official told Yonhap News Agency.

"The United States remains guided by the vision President Trump and Chairman Kim set forth in Singapore and calls on the DPRK to engage in sustained and substantive negotiations to achieve complete denuclearization," he added, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The remarks came hours after the communist state staged a massive military parade, showcasing a new intercontinental ballistic missile that is believed to be its largest so far.

John Supple, a spokesperson for the US Department of Defense, said the US was analyzing the event in consultation with its Asian allies.

"We are aware of reports related to the parade. Our analysis is ongoing and we are consulting with our Allies in the region," he told Yonhap.

The North's newly disclosed ICBM was carried on a transporter erector launcher (TEL) with 22 wheels, indicating it is longer than any of the previous long-range missiles.

"Such a massive road-mobile missile -- likely the biggest such missile on the planet -- would have the capability to add either increased range or be able to carry a bigger payload," said Harry Kazianis, senior director of Korean studies at a Washington-based policy think tank, the Institute for the National Interest.

In a midnight speech marking the 75th founding anniversary of the North's ruling Workers' Party, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said his country will never use its defense capabilities "as a means for preemptive strike," but that it will continue to build up its war deterrent.

"But, if, and if, any forces infringe upon the security of our state and attempt to have recourse to military force against us, I will enlist all our most powerful offensive strength in advance to punish them," he added.

Kim made no mention of the United States, which is traditionally a key topic of any major speech given by a North Korean leader.(Yonhap)


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Another DPRK military parade showing new SLBMs.




North Korea staged a military parade Thursday evening in central Pyongyang, showing off its state-of-the-art weapons, including a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), state media reported Friday.

The parade, held in Kim Il-sung Square, came after Pyongyang wrapped up its eight-day congress of the ruling Workers' Party on Tuesday, at which leader Kim Jong-un pledged to bolster the country's nuclear arsenal.

North Korea appears to be aiming to up the ante ahead of next week's inauguration of Joe Biden as new president of the United States amid uncertainty over Washington's policy direction on currently stalled denuclearization talks.

Unveiled during the parade was a new type of SLBM.

"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," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

Photos and recorded footage later released by state media showed the SLBMs displayed during the parade labeled as the Pukguksong-5ㅅ, which looks longer than the Pukguksong-4ㅅ SLBM, first unveiled during a military parade in October last year.

The North, however, appears to have not displayed its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Clad in a long black leather coat and wearing a big furry hat, leader Kim attended the event. He was seen saluting back to goosestepping soldiers with smiles on his face and sometimes giving a thumbs-up to the weapons rolling through the square.

He did not address the event. Instead, Defense Minister Kim Jong-gwan delivered a speech.

Columns of armored vehicles moved through the square, followed by state-of-the-art tactical missiles and other weaponry.

Fighter jets were seen flying in formation and drawing the number "eight" in the sky with fireworks in celebration of the eighth party congress.

Thousands of spectators were seen frantically waving flags and chanting "hurrah" to the leader, with some even shedding tears.

Marching soldiers participating in the parade appeared to be breathing heavily as the event took place at night in freezing cold weather. The participants, including leader Kim and other top officials, were not wearing face masks.

Kim's powerful sister Kim Yo-jong was also spotted dressed in a long black leather coat, applauding as the military parade proceeded.

The parade was attended by other senior officials, including Choe Ryong-hae, the North's No. 2 leader, and Jo Yong-won, a senior party official who is believed to have jumped to the country's No. 3 position at the party congress.

Thursday's parade came two days after the rare party congress which was held for more than a week until Tuesday.

During the congress, Kim unveiled a new five-year economic development scheme focusing on self-reliance in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and Washington-led global sanctions on his regime.

He defined the U.S. as the "foremost principal enemy," saying that his country is developing new weapons systems, such as a nuclear-powered submarine, while pledging to bolster its nuclear arsenal.

Experts said the North appears to be sending a message to the U.S. by showcasing its new SLBM and others ahead of Biden's inauguration. 

"North Korea doesn't need an SLBM. It is not for the South, it's for the U.S. In that aspect, it sends a message aimed at pressuring the U.S. ahead of the incoming Biden administration,"

Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, said.

"But the North is not sending a message to the U.S. warning that it will take action. It is sending an unspoken message to force the incoming administration to prioritize North Korea in their policies and to withdraw hostile policy against the North," he added.

Nuclear talks have remained stalled since a no-deal summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump in 2019 as they failed to find common ground on how to match Pyongyang's denuclearization steps with Washington's sanctions relief.

Kim has expressed frustration with a lack of progress in denuclearization talks and has called for self-reliance in military, economic development and many other areas.

The North last staged a massive nighttime military parade in October to mark the 75th founding anniversary of the Workers' Party and showed off a new ICBM and an SLBM. (Yonhap)



Edited by JasonJ
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