North Korea May Soon Stage First Military Parade Under Biden

(Bloomberg) — North Korea could hold a military parade this week as it celebrates a national anniversary, Yonhap News Agency reported, an event that would mark the first major public display of its weaponry since U.S. President Joe Biden took office.

Given the status of preparation, leader Kim Jong Un’s regime may stage the event at night and have it coincide with the Sept. 9 anniversary of the state’s founding, Yonhap reported Tuesday citing unidentified military sources. South Korea is closely monitoring North Korea’s movements, including preparations for large-scale events like a parade, Kim Jun-rak, a Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman, said at a briefing.

Satellite imagery indicates North Korea has been moving troops and vehicles in recent days to a Pyongyang staging area it uses to prepare for parades, the 38 North website and Yonhap reported last week. The state’s last parade was in January, before Biden’s inauguration, where it showed off developments in its ballistic missile program. 

A parade would serve as a chilling reminder to Biden that Kim’s military might has grown more lethal as nuclear disarmament talks have sputtered. Under Kim, North Korea has been steadily adding to its stockpile of fissile material and increasing its arsenal of missiles that could strike the U.S. and its allies. 

But Kim is struggling with an economy that has only gotten smaller since he took power about a decade ago in large part from sanctions to punish him for tests of nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver warheads. The North Korean leader has so far shown no interest in sitting down with the Biden administration, which has said it’s open for discussions and indicated it could offer economic incentives in exchange for disarmament steps.

It usually takes North Korea several weeks to prepare for a parade, which means it might also be looking for a display in early October to celebrate the anniversary of the foundation of its ruling Workers’ Party. 

At a parade last October to mark the event, North Korea rolled out what experts said was the state’s largest display of new weaponry under Kim, including what they described as the world’s biggest road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile. The so-far-untested missile could allow North Korea to pack multiple atomic weapons on a single rocket to attack the U.S., experts said. 

Kim has staged his recent military parades at night to increase the dramatic effect of the events that have been a staple of the state for decades. The last two versions included stunts like LED lighting on jet fighters flying by and drone shots following thousands of goose-stepping soldiers marching through the main square in Pyongyang named after state founder Kim Il Sung — the current leader’s grandfather.


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