The 105th birth anniversary of its founding father, Kim Il Sung, saw North Korea display what appeared to be new long-range and submarine-based missiles. In the meantime, a nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft carrier group steamed towards the region.
North Korea has conducted several missile and nuclear tests in defiance of U.N. and unilateral sanctions, regularly threatening to destroy the United States. Kim Jong Un was seen looking relaxed in a dark suit and laughing with aides as they oversaw the huge parade on the Day of the Sun.
Pyongyang's main Kim Il Sung Square was filled with marching bands followed by tanks, multiple launch rocket systems and other weapons. There was also single-engine propeller-powered planes flying in a 105 formation overhead.
North Korea has said it has developed and would launch a missile that can strike the mainland United States but officials and experts believe it is some time away from mastering all the necessary technology to do so.
Reports from weapons analysts revealed that some of the missiles on display were new types of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). The ICBM missiles were enclosed in canister launchers mounted on the back of trucks, suggesting Pyongyang was working towards a new concept of ICBM.
Melissa Hanham who is a senior research associate at the U.S.-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California revealed that North Korea has a habit of showing off new concepts in parades before they ever test or launch them.
The North's KCNA state news agency published a statement citing a spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People's Army who said that all the brigandish provocative moves of the U.S. in the political, economic and military fields pursuant to its hostile policy toward the DPRK will thoroughly be foiled through the toughest counteraction of the army and people of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Trump’s administration has warned that a policy of strategic patience with North Korea is over. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence travels to South Korea on Sunday on a long-planned 10-day trip to Asia.
Surprisingly, North Korea's Pukkuksong submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) were also on parade. This was the first time that North Korea has shown the missiles, which have a range of more than 1,000 km (600 miles). The move indicates that North Korea is progressing with its plan to base a missile on a submarine, which are hard to detect.
China called for talks to defuse the crisis it also banned all imports of North Korean coal on Feb. 26 under U.N. sanctions, cutting off the North's most important export product. Air China also canceled some flights to Pyongyang due to poor demand but it has not suspended all flights there it also denied a report by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV that all flights run by the airline between the two cities were to be suspended.
A radio broadcast of new encrypted numbers was sent by North Korea on Friday. The new combination of mysterious random numbers believed to be coded orders to its spies operating in South Korea. The broadcast took place one day ahead of late state founder Kim Il-sung's 105th birthday.
The broadcast was aired on North's propaganda station Radio Pyongyang began at 1:15 a.m. (Seoul time), calling out a series of pages and numbers, such as No. 69 on page 823, No. 92 on page 467 and No. 100 on page 957, before repeating them one more time.
The radio announcer said that he was giving review works in elementary information technology lessons of the remote education university for No. 27 expedition agents. The numbers are different from those that have been aired to date.
The move marked the 32nd time that Pyongyang has broadcast encrypted numbers since June 2016.
Broadcasts of mysterious numbers is seen as a kind of book cipher that was often used by North Korea to give missions to spies operating in South Korea during the Cold War era.
The spies could decode numbers to get orders by using a reference book, although many intelligence officials believe this form of sending orders to be outdated. People believe the broadcast may be some sort of deception strategy to spark confusion within South Korea.