North Korea unveils record number of missiles
North Korea has again flexed its muscles, with a display in its capital Pyongyang on Wednesday of what experts soon observed was the largest number of intercontinental ballistic missiles that it has ever paraded. The show of military force featured eleven of its newest Hwasong-17 rockets.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Thursday that the “grand” event had been held to celebrate the DPRK military's 75th anniversary.
The country’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un watched the proceedings along with his wife Ri Sol-ju and their daughter Kim Ju-ae.
Among the “ultra-modern military hardware” featured in the parade were what KCNA described as “tactical nuclear weapons operation units.”
These were followed by Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), which, according to the state-run media, represent the “tremendous nuclear-strike capability of the DPRK.”
The message to any potential foes was a “nuke for [a] nuke and an all-out-confrontation for an all-out-confrontation,” the report explained.
Pyongyang conducted the first known test of the Hwasong-17 in 2022.
Taking to Twitter on Thursday, Ankit Panda from the US-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace argued that “this is cumulatively more ICBM launchers than we've ever seen before at a North Korean parade.”
Need to see video, but it looks like 10-12 Hwasong-17 ICBMs made an appearance. This is cumulatively more ICBM launchers than we've ever seen before at a North Korean parade. pic.twitter.com/B9IQwK0HG6— Ankit Panda (@nktpnd) February 9, 2023
Assessing the photos released by KCNA, media outlet Politico media warned that North Korea appears to now possess enough missiles to “conceivably overwhelm the United States’ defense against them.”
According to Politico’s estimates, the US has a total of 44 ground-based interceptors to destroy a potential incoming North Korean ICBM. However, if the DPRK’s missiles can carry four warheads, their number would exceed the number of American defenses, the report pointed out.
The article went on to describe this week’s parade as a “defiant display” that highlights Pyongyang’s “stunning military advancement and Western failures to get the ruling Kim family to part with its weapons.”
Some Western experts also paid particular attention to what they believe to be a prototype or mockup of a new solid-fuel ICBM.
While so far the DPRK has relied on missiles that have to be filled with liquid fuel at a launch site, the country has for some time been seeking to develop a solid-fuel alternative.
If North Korea succeeds, its military will have rockets that do not require a time-consuming fueling process before launch - which would make them harder for an enemy to spot during a conflict.