TOKYO — North Korea put on a huge military spectacle Saturday to celebrate its founder’s birthday, parading its series of new and technologically advanced missiles in front of Kim Jong Un, and in a defiant show of force in front of the world.
North Korea did not, however, carry out another nuclear test or ballistic missile launch, against widespread speculation that it would seek to celebrate Kim Il Sung’s 105th birthday with a bang.
April 15 is the most important day in the North Korean calendar, and Kim Jong Un has celebrated his grandfather’s birthday with great fanfare as a way to boost his own legitimacy as the successor to the communist dynasty.
North Korea presented two of its newest model missiles at the parade in Kim Il Sung Square on Saturday, including the submarine-launched ballistic type it successfully fired last year and the land-based version it launched last month.
“And there were a lot of them,” said Melissa Hanham, an expert at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California. “The signal that they’re trying to send is that they are moving ahead with solid-fuel missiles.”
North Korea has been working on solid fuel — which, unlike liquid fuel, can be preloaded into missiles — as a way to fire missiles quickly to avoid prior detection by satellites.
Analysts were working to identify all the missiles that were shown off on Saturday, many of which appeared to have new paint jobs or be variants of known missiles.