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North Korea’s parade could include ICBM nuclear missile – satellite imagery analysed

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While imagery resolution is insufficient to determine exactly what the vehicle is, relative size and shape suggests that it may be a transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) for a large missile

Peter Markowsky and Jenny Town

The pictures revealed a “probable missile-related vehicle” at the Mirim Parade Training Ground outside the capital, Pyongyang, according to a report by 38 North, which monitors North Korea. Report authors Peter Markowsky and Jenny Town said: “While imagery resolution is insufficient to determine exactly what the vehicle is, relative size and shape suggests that it may be a transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) for a large missile.”

The vehicle seemed to be big enough to carry one of North Korea’s nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), widely thought to be capable of hitting targets in the United States.

The authors said while it was possible the vehicle could be something else, it seemed “unlikely in this particular location and circumstance”.

Satellite imagery had also shown large formations of troops and vehicles practicing at the parade training ground, 38 North reported earlier this week.

October 10 marks the 75th anniversary of the formation of the Communist Party of Korea, an important day in the calendar of the Hermit State.

North Korea has not shown its largest ballistic missiles at military parades since early 2018, after which Kim met US President Donald Trump in a series of three summits.

However, talks aimed at getting North Korea to give up its nuclear programme have since stalled and earlier this year Kim vowed to unveil a new, unspecified “strategic weapon”.

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Analysts have speculated North Korea could use the holiday to showcase new weapons, either at a parade or in an actual test.

Fellow 38 North analyst Martyn Williams told yesterday: “As for a new weapon, of course, it’s possible something appears and equally possible it doesn’t.

“We haven’t seen anything through satellite imagery that would confirm that one way or the other.”

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Mr Williams himself published an analysis on 38 North’s website on Monday in which he suggested rehearsals for the parade were in full swing.

He wrote: “North Korea does not publicly confirm its military parades in advance, but the preparations can usually be seen via satellite imagery two to six months prior.

“The recent training strongly suggests a large military parade is planned for the 75th anniversary of the Workers’ Party of Korea on October 10.

“In the centre road of the mock parade route around the replica of Kim Il-sung Square, a line of large vehicles appears to be exiting the square.

“Among them is a group of nine longer vehicles, three abreast, that are likely multiple-rocket launcher vehicles.”

A day earlier, Professor Jim Hoare of London’s School of Oriental and Asian Studies said the parade offered a good opportunity for Kim to catch the attention of the world.

He added: “In the DPRK, anniversaries marking 5 or 10 years are regarded as particularly important, so this year’s parade may be a bit more of an occasion than usual.

“Such occasions have been used in the past to show off new weapons (or at least mock-ups of new weapons – one is never sure).

“Because it has happened in the past, many commentators speculate at it will happen again – sometimes they are right, sometimes not.

“There may be what seem to be clues but there is probably no way of being sure until the day itself that something new might be on display.”

Speaking about the latest pictures, Prof Hoare cautioned:  “They have done this before and there was much excitement until it was concluded that what was shown were mock ups. But as I said it might be true.   

US officials said this week nuclear-armed North Korea had resumed long-range missile cooperation with Iran but did not provide detailed evidence.

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