North Korea leaves ICBMs out of parade as it celebrates 70 years
North Korea celebrated its 70th birthday on Sunday with a lavish parade in Pyongyang. The usual goose-stepping soldiers and tanks were featured, but the country’s intercontinental ballistic missiles were conspicuously absent from the display.
The highly-choreographed parade offered a rare opportunity for western journalists to see inside the secretive kingdom, although they face severe restrictions punishable with 10 years of hard labour. CTV’s Avery Haines was the only Canadian TV journalist to witness the historic day.
Leader Kim Jong Un waved to a hysterical crowd from a balcony. He did not speak, but did send a message by locking fingers and raising hands with Li Zhanshu, a special envoy sent by Chinese President Xi Jinping. China is an ally of the socialist kingdom. Some observers had speculated that Xi might attend, so his absence may raise questions.
Meanwhile, experts suggest that the lack of Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missiles on display could be a sign that North Korea does not want to further antagonize the United States.
U.S. President Donald Trump claimed after a historic summit in June that North Korea had agreed to complete denuclearization, only to have reports suggest months later that North Korea have continued to build.
Pyongyang now claims that it wants its security guaranteed and a peace agreement formally ending the Korean War in place before it will get rid of its nuclear warheads.
Trump said on Twitter Sunday that he took the lack of missiles on display to be a sign of the country’s commitment to denuclearize.
“Thank you To Chairman Kim,” Trump wrote. “We will prove everyone wrong! There is nothing like good dialogue from two people that like each other! Much better than before I took office.”
Canadian David Ellsworth, from Kelowna, B.C., who has travelled to North Korea eight times, says he was “amazed” by the tone of Sunday’s parade.
“Today's celebrations amazed me because I have seen two previous celebrations like the parades that were far more militaristic,” he said. “They ended with these huge rockets coming down the street.”
This parade, by contrast, ended with a “social presentation,” he said.
With files from CTV’s Avery Haines in Pyongyang and The Associated Press