North Korea’s Kim praises the army ahead of a planned military parade

By Josh Smith

SEOUL (Reuters). – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un demanded strengthening the country’s military. He paid tribute to soldiers and met troops, amid hopes for a major military parade showcasing new weapons.

State media reported that Kim and his daughter attended a banquet on Tuesday to mark the 75th anniversary the founding of the Korean People’s Army.

According to state news agency KCNA: “For the strengthening, development of our armed force, let us all increase our efforts and do even more for the prosperous development the socialist motherland,” he said in a speech during the banquet.

He made these remarks just one day after he promised to intensify military drills, and increase the nuclear-armed country’s war readiness posture.

KCNA reported separately that Kim’s command of large-scale military drills in 2011, including hundreds of fighter jets, was “inflicting a severe blow on the largest joint Air Exercise ever conducted by the United States or its agents” in November.

International analysts claim that commercial satellite imagery has shown North Korean troops preparing for a major military parade. This is what they have been doing for several months.

Parades like these are held in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square. These parades often showcase new weapons such as missiles and nuclear warheads.

The four previous military parades were held after dark.

An illuminated aircraft flew low over Pyongyang around 1 a.m. Wednesday. There was music heard from the square. This suggests that a parade is imminent, Seoul-based NK News reported. It cited videos it had obtained.

Despite UN Security Council sanctions and resolutions, North Korea continued to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in spite of international sanctions.

Last year, North Korea launched its largest intercontinental ballistic missile ever (ICBM). This was in the midst a record year of launches. Seoul and Washington officials claim it is making preparations to resume nuclear weapons tests for the first time since 2017.

The United States and South Korea have intensified their military drills against the North to draw condemnation from Pyongyang.

Josh Smith. Gerry Doyle edits

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