Satellite imagery shows North Korea is poised to stage another military parade amid new worries that diplomatic efforts on denuclearization are stalling, although analysts have said that it is unclear whether it will showcase any of the nation’s largest ballistic missiles.
Pyongyang is preparing to host a number of major events on Sept. 9 for the 70th anniversary of the nation’s founding, including a military parade, possible visits by foreign delegations, and — for the first time in five years — a massive choreographed performance known as the “Mass Games.”
Parades have long been a way for North Korea to show off its military might and this month’s show comes amid sensitive negotiations over the future of the nation’s nuclear and ballistic missile arsenal.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met US President Donald Trump in June and agreed to “work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” but negotiations since then appear to have stalled, with both sides increasingly criticizing the other for a lack of progress.
Based on commercial satellite imagery gathered by Planet Labs Inc, analysts have said the military parade is likely to be similar to one on Feb. 8, but there is so far no sign of the controversial intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that are believed to be capable of targeting the US.
“At the moment, this parade look pretty similar, if not smaller, than the one in February,” said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at California’s Middlebury Institute of International Studies.
Among the weapons the team at Middlebury spotted in Aug. 22 images of North Korea’s Mirim Parade Training Ground are tanks, self-propelled artillery, infantry carriers, anti-aircraft missiles and rocket launchers.
Other possible weapons arrayed on the parade ground include coastal defense cruise missiles, as well as at least six solid-fuel, short-range ballistic missiles possibly of a type first seen in February.
Analysts said that the short-range ballistic missile is based on the Russian Iskander missile, but also shares many features of South Korea’s Hyunmoo-2 missile.
“The first 99 vehicles are identical,” Lewis said. “After that we only see another 20 or so short-range missiles. There were more on parade in February, including ICBMs.”
Another analysis of the Planet Labs images, conducted by Joseph Bermudez at the Stimson Centre’s 38 North Web site, also found no signs of ICBMs, but said that an expanded number of heavy equipment storage shelters indicate that this month’s parade “will likely be considerably larger than the military parade earlier this year.”
If ICBMs or other large missiles are present, “they would likely remain hidden under the shelters in the heavy-equipment storage area until the day of the parade,” Bermudez wrote.
Lewis said that there could be more weapons hidden in the sheds, but said at this point it is “just speculation.”
Analysts have said that there is so far no indication that the parade would match the April last year “Day of the Sun” parade, in which Kim rolled out multiple new missile systems, helping to exacerbate rising tensions with the US and South Korea.
“It probably won’t be anything close to what we saw in last year,” said Dave Schmerler, a research associate at the Middlebury Institute.
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
PLAYING THE VICTIM? A Chinese spokesman sent a statement to Australian media saying that Beijing had ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Canberra’s widescale espionage Australia yesterday unveiled the “largest-ever” boost in cybersecurity spending, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke out about a wave of state-sponsored attacks suspected to have been carried out by China. Morrison and government officials said the country would spend an additional A$1.35 billion (US$928 million) on cybersecurity, about a 10 percent hike, taking the budget for the next decade to A$15 billion. The largest chunk of the new money would help create 500 jobs within the Australian Signals Directorate, the government’s communications intelligence agency. Morrison on June 19 said that a “state-based actor” was targeting a host of
The Philippine army chief yesterday expressed outrage over the fatal police shooting of four soldiers, including two officers, and demanded justice, as both sides provided contrasting accounts of the killings. Philippine Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Ano, a retired military chief of staff who now oversees the national police, ordered that the police involved in Monday’s violence in Jolo in Sulu Province be disarmed and restricted for investigation. Police said the soldiers were killed in a “misencounter” with a group of police officers. The army said that the two officers and two enlisted men were on a mission against