North Korea parades combat weapons in a show of strength

Unlike at some previous parades attended by Kim, there did not appear to be a senior Chinese official in attendance.

The portraits of late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are seen lit at dawn at Kim Il Sung Square on Saturday, April 15, 2017, in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Pence is due in Seoul at the start of a 10-day trip to Asia in what his aides said was a sign of the USA commitment to its ally in the face of rising tension.

North Koreans wave plastic flowers during a military parade in Pyongyang to celebrate the 105th birth anniversary of Kim Il Sung, the country's late founder and grandfather of current ruler, Kim Jong Un, April 15, 2017.

Tension has been building since Kim Jong Un announced in his New Year's message that the country was close to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The U.S. seeks nothing more than a "stable and economically prosperous Korean peninsula", not military conflict, the official said.

"The North attempted to launch an unidentified missile from near the Sinpo region this morning but it is suspected to have failed", South Korea's Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

Japan's Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister's office released nearly identical statements late Sunday, citing the USA announcement about North Korea's failed ballistic missile launch from its east coast. "If the United States wages reckless provocation against us, our revolutionary power will instantly counter with annihilating strike, and we will respond to full out war with full out war and to nuclear war with our style of nuclear strike warfare".

Choe said President Donald Trump was guilty of "creating a war situation" on the Korean Peninsula by dispatching USA forces to the region.

"That is something that our headquarters decides", Han said.

North Korea's goal is a long-range nuclear missile that can strike the continental United States.

While Pyongyang seems to have backed down to USA military pressure for now, it is likely only a temporary pause.

China has spoken out against North Korea's missile and nuclear tests and has supported United Nations sanctions.

U.S., South Korean and other officials are closely monitoring the North amid indications it could conduct another missile test or nuclear explosion to coincide with an important national anniversary this weekend.

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Kim, wearing a suit and tie, was greeted Saturday with thunderous - and extensively practiced - applause as he stepped into view on a large podium, clapping to acknowledge the thousands of soldiers and civilians taking part in the parade at Kim Il Sung Square.

Soldiers in tanks take part in the parade.

For outside military analysts, though, the highlight is the weaponry that the North puts on display.

"No nation in the world develops missiles and shows the real thing during a parade, it's just too risky", Markus Schiller, a weapons expert with ST Analytics, told CNN that parades always involve "mock-ups".

It was not immediately clear how ready the missiles were.

Large rockets covered by canisters in two different types of transporter erector launcher trucks, or TELs, were seen paraded in the streets.

In his annual New Year's address, Kim said North Korea's preparations for an ICBM launch had "reached the final stage".

Pointing to the quarter-century since North Korea first obtained nuclear weapons, the vice president said a period of patience followed.

Other military hardware at the parade included tanks, multiple rocket launchers and artillery, as well as a solid-fuel missile created to be fired from submarines. Also on display was a powerful midrange missile that outside analysts call a "Musudan", and which can potentially reach USA air bases in Guam.

Han dismissed the suggestion Trump made past year during his presidential campaign that he was willing to meet Kim Jong Un, possibly over hamburgers.

He said the North may have a handful of plutonium-based warheads it can mount on medium-range ballistic missiles capable of reaching South Korea and Japan.

"However, North Korea has a habit of showing off new concepts in parades before they ever test or launch them", she said. Recent satellite imagery suggests the country could conduct another underground nuclear test at any time.

Since January 2016, Pyongyang has acted with little restraint, conducting two nuclear tests and attempting numerous medium- and long-range ballistic missile launches. That was the site of a ballistic missile test earlier this month in which the projectile fell into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea.

Other senior officials joining Kim at the parade podium included Kim Won Hong, who the South Korean government had said earlier this year was sacked from his job as state security minister, presumably over corruption.

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