NATIONAL

‘NK likely to mark Oct. 10 anniversary with something big’

By Choi Si-young
  • Published : Sept 17, 2020 - 15:38
  • Updated : Sept 21, 2020 - 17:10

Intercontinental ballistic missiles, Hwasong-15, are seen at a military parade marking the 70th founding anniversary of the Korean People's Army at Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang in February 2018. (KCNA-Yonhap)

North Korea will likely celebrate its founding anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party on Oct. 10 with “something big” potentially showcasing missiles at a military parade amid the stalled nuclear talks with the US, Ankit Panda, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Wednesday.

“The North Koreans are going to come out potentially with scores of solid propellants, medium range missiles, maybe Pukguksong-2s,” he told a teleconference hosted by the Korea Society. First test-fired in 2017, Pukguksong-2 remains under development.

“(North Korea) will parade those down at Kim Il-sung Square in a way they’ve never done before.”

Panda based his projection on the fact that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vowed in January this year he would unveil new “strategic weapons” and that new missiles were usually displayed at the annual parade before their test flight.

North Korea tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile, Hwasong-15, in 2017, after showing it at a parade two years prior.

Panda also pointed to satellite images from 38 North, a website monitoring North Korea, that showed “unprecedented” activity seen there making preparations for the October anniversary.

“There are several temporary shelters that could host very large missile launchers and a lot of them,” Panda said, adding the communist regime could use the anniversary this year to highlight progress in its weapon stockpiles, in addition to their technologies.

The website on North Korea released Tuesday a report written by a longtime North Korean watcher that discussed North Koreans troops continuing to exercise in formations and new storage structures built in Mirim Airfield adjacent to Kim Il-sung Square where the parade is held.

The structures were seen to have been recently erected and were large enough to house the ICBM Hwasong-15, according to the report. It added, however, satellite images were insufficient to ascertain what was exactly in there.

A week earlier, the Center for Strategic and International Studies said the North may be preparing to launch a submarine-launched ballistic missile soon, though the satellite images pointing to the activity were inconclusive.

The firing would reinforce views Pyongyang has advanced its ballistic missile development and wants to demonstrate its progress around the October anniversary.

However, Gen. Suh Wook, South Korea’s nominee for defense minister, ruled out a potential launch, given the short preparation time Pyongyang had this day amid the coronavirus outbreak and recent floods that battered the isolated country.

Neither a ballistic missile launch nor a nuclear test from Pyongyang was in near sight, Suh told a parliamentary hearing at the time.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)