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North Korea Rolls Out Missiles During Founder's Birthday Celebrations

During a Saturday parade commemorating its founder's birthday, North Korea rolled out what appeared to be new intercontinental ballistic missiles. The country has been warned against having such weapons.

Amid the fanfare and regalia of its founder's birthday celebrations, North Korea rolled out what appeared to be new missiles – a brazen display as the country ratchets up its rhetoric against efforts to curb its weapons programs.

The missiles were among one element of a massive, militaristic parade to mark the 1912 birthday of the regime's founder, Kim Il Sung. Common among the annual holiday are the shows of uniformity and Maoist-inflected ideology that were on display during the Saturday parade, including parcels of tanks and ordnance and goose-stepping processions.

Decked in black, Kim Jong Un, silently watched the ceremonies to commemorate his grandfather in the nation's capital city, Pyongyang.

This year, however, the holiday also showcased what appeared to be long-range and submarine-based missiles: weapons the country has long been warned against possessing. As NPR's Rob Schmitz tells our newscast unit:

"Military analysts paid close attention to two new types of intercontinental ballistic missiles enclosed in canister launchers mounted on the backs of trucks – none of which had been displayed before.

"Though analysts questioned what was inside the missile shells, they said the appearance of a submarine-launched ballistic missile shows North Korea is progressing with its plan to launch missiles from anywhere in the sea."

And on the same day, a top North Korean official offered a warning to the U.S., accusing President Trump of "creating a war situation."

"We will respond to an all-out war with an all-out war and a nuclear war with our style of a nuclear attack," said Choe Ryong Hae as translated by the BBC.

"We are ready to hit back with nuclear attacks of our own style against any nuclear attacks," Choe said Saturday.

The North has been increasingly challenging the U.S. in rhetoric following ambiguous language from the Trump administration as well as the recent missile strike against Syrian government forces. The North views the strike as telegraphing what the Trump administration's plans are for its regime.

The Associated Press furthers notes that in a statement Friday, North Korea's military drew parallels to past U.S. actions against Iraq and Libya.

"It will be the largest of miscalculations if the United States treats us like Iraq and Libya, which are living out miserable fates as victims of aggression, and Syria, which didn't respond immediately even after it was attacked," said a Friday statement by the general staff of the North Korean army, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

Moreover, the North has taken the recent deployment of a U.S. naval strike group to the region as grounds for its continued testing of nuclear and missile weapons technologies.

As NPR's Merrit Kennedy reported earlier this week, the regime said it would "hold the U.S. wholly accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its outrageous actions."

"We never beg for peace but we will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by powerful force of arms and keep to the road chosen by ourselves," read a statement quoted by Merrit.

Meanwhile, Vice President Pence is traveling to South Korea this weekend. Pence is scheduled to begin a ten-day Asia trip

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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