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Huge parade marks North Korean Workers' Party 70th anniversary

The isolated country is holding one of its biggest parties ever to celebrate the ruling party's creation in 1950. While no world leaders are attending, large crowds are thronging the streets of Pyongyang.

North Korea's capital Pyongyang was holding a massive military parade on Saturday to mark the 70th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party.

A cavalcade of tanks, armored vehicles and assorted ballistic hardware moved through the city's Kim Il-Sung Square, along with thousands of marching troops, in an attempt to show off the nuclear nation's military strength.

At 11:30 local time (0300 GMT) the parade was delayed for a few hours because of overnight thunderstorms.

Supreme leader Kim Jong Un has put in a first appearance at the ceremony, saluting his honor guard and waving to soldiers taking part in the parade. In a televised speech, he said the North was "ready to fight any kind of war waged by the US imperialists."

There have been reports that the secretive country has invested in new cutting-edge weaponry for the occasion.

North Korea's most popular all-female Moranbong Band will later also take to a stage that has been set up on a river running through central Pyongyang for a late-night concert.

Pyongyang transformed

Months of preparation have gone into Saturday's celebrations, involving a mass mobilization of state and military personnel.

Reports say the capital has been given a comprehensive makeover -- its streets lined and decorated with giant posters, red banners and national flags.

The posters display the numerals "10-10," in reference to the ruling party's official October 10 birthday.

Tens of thousands of people have been streaming through the city's streets, including many foreign tourists and media. However no world leaders will be in the audience, although ally China is sending a senior Communist Party official.

Satellite imagery suggests the military parade could be the country's biggest ever.

Nuclear tensions

While the celebrations will likely be lauded by the country's deferential state media, Western newspapers have highlighted the ruling party's seven decades of repression, abductions, murder and nuclear brinkmanship.

On Thursday, the US said North Korea had the capability to launch a nuclear weapon at Washington. In recent years, Pyongyang has fired several test rockets in a standoff with its neighbors over its nuclear program.

mm/jm (AP, Reuters)