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ConflictsNorth Korea

North Korea displays new solid-fueled ballistic missile

February 9, 2023

The new solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) has been a longtime goal of Pyongyang. Once launched, ICBMs are hard to spot and destroy.

Kim Jong Un along with officials salutes a military parade in Pyongyang.
Kim Jong Un oversaw a nighttime military parade in PyongyangImage: KCNA VIA KNS/AFP

North Korea conducted a nighttime military parade on Wednesday where it displayed its newest ballistic missile launchers.

Analysts believe that the parade showcased what could be a new, solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) designed to reach the United States.

While the parade featured multiple tactical nuclear units, the ICBMs showed North Korea's "greatest" nuclear strike capability, reported the state news agency.

The widely anticipated event, which marked the 75th anniversary of the founding of its army, comes as the country continues to push to cement its status as a nuclear power.

Kim Jong Un oversaw the display of weaponry in Pyongyang with his wife and youngest daughter, Ju Ae.

Kim Jong Un walks with his daughter Kim Ju Ae and his wife Ri Sol followed by the army officials.
The military parade marked the 75th anniversary of the founding of North Korea's army.Image: KCNA via REUTERS

ICBMs — a longtime key goal of Kim's

This ICBM is part of an extensive wishlist of weaponry announced by Kim under a five-year arms development plan in 2021.

Most of the ballistic missiles in the country use liquid fuel, which requires them to be loaded with propellant at the launch site. This is known to be a time-consuming process.

However, the ICBM is a solid-fuel missile, which means it offers greater mobility and reduces launch preparation time.

The ICBM could also make North Korea's nuclear missiles difficult to spot and destroy during a conflict.

It is unclear when the new missiles will be tested. North Korea has sometimes displayed mockups at the parade.

Apart from the ICBM, Kim Jong Un's wishlist also included tactical nuclear weapons, hypersonic missiles, nuclear-powered submarines and spy satellites.

A closely-watched parade

Satellite images released by the US-based firm Maxar Technologies showed huge missile-carrying trucks passing Pyongyang's Kim II Sung Square as thousands of spectators watched.

The parade took place after Kim called for an "exponential" increase in Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal. This is the fourth nighttime parade held by the country in recent years.

"Following the apparent Hwasong-17 ICBM pairs are four unidentified but apparently similarly-sized canisterized systems," Joseph Dempsey, a defense researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said on Twitter.

Ankit Panda, a US-based security expert with Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said that the canisterized ICBM might be the one seen during the 2017 parade and has not been tested thus far.

This parade was followed by a record-breaking year of weapons tests, including firing its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile.

Despite the UN security council and resolutions and sanctions, North Korea has forged ahead with its ballistic missile program and launched larger and more advanced missiles than ever before.

Lee Sung-jun, a spokesperson for South Korea's Joint Chief of Staff, said that South Korea and the US military were closely analyzing the photos and reports from the parade.

Kim Ju Ae makes another appearance 

Kim Jong Un, who was previously very private about who his children were, unveiled his second-born, 10-year-old daughter Kim Ju Ae at an intercontinental ballistic missile launch last November. 

Since then she has appeared alongside her father at multiple high-profile events, including the most recent one being a banquet held on Tuesday to mark the army's founding anniversary.

Kim Jogn Un is seen walking with daughter Kim Ju Ae and his wife Ri Sol Ju.
Kim Jong Un's daughter Ju Ae is said to be North Korea's "princess."Image: KCNA/REUTERS

Analysts believe that she is equivalent to being North Korea's "princess" and her appearances indicate that she is the anointed successor.

At the banquet, Kim praised the "irresistible might" of his military and referred to them as the "strongest army in the world."

ns/es (AP, Reuters)