(Reuters) – Nuclear-armed North Korea displayed its missile production capabilities during a nighttime military parade, state media reported on Thursday, showing more intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) than ever before and hinting at a new solid-fuel weapon.
The country has pushed forward with its ballistic missile program, testing dozens of advanced missiles last year despite United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions and sanctions.
“This time, Kim Jong Un has let North Korea’s tactical and long-range missile forces speak for themselves,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. “The message Pyongyang wishes to send internationally, demonstrating its ability to deter and coerce, will likely come in the form of solid-fuel missile tests and detonation of a miniaturized nuclear device.”
Images released by state media KCNA of Wednesday night’s parade showed up to 11 Hwasong-17s, North Korea’s largest ICBM, reportedly capable of striking almost anywhere in the world with a nuclear warhead.
Eleven missiles could be enough to overwhelm the United States’ current missile defenses, Ankit Panda of the U.S.-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said on Twitter.
“That is cumulatively more ICBM launchers than we have ever seen in a North Korean parade,” he said in a tweet.
The Hwasong-17 was first tested last year. Next to them at the parade was what some analysts said could be a prototype or mock-up of a new solid-fuel ICBM.
The development of a solid-fuel ICBM has long been seen as a key goal for the country, as it could make its nuclear missiles more difficult to locate and destroy during a conflict.
North Korea held the parade in Pyongyang to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of its army, KCNA said. Leader Kim Jong Un attended with his daughter, who is seen as having a possible future leadership role in the hereditary dictatorship.