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22 April 2017, 12:52 | Terri Saunders
North Korea unveiled a train of intercontinental ballistics Saturday in its capital of Pyongyang as part of an annual parade celebrating the birthday of founder Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of supreme leader Kim Jong-un. DPRK on Saturday showcased its military muscles by parading all of its most advanced ballistic and tactic missiles, including a submarine-launched ballistic missile which could strike targets 1,000 kilometers away.
Tension had escalated sharply in the region amid concerns that the reclusive North may soon conduct a sixth nuclear test or a ballistic missile test launch timed with the April 15 anniversary it calls the "Day of the Sun".
One of the missiles in particular caught the attention of South Korean military analysts watching via the North's state television broadcast.
Choe Ryong Hae, a close aide to 30-something Mr Kim, addressed the packed square with a characteristically bellicose warning to his country's American foe.
Choe, who is believed to be the second-most powerful official in North Korea, further stated that the new United States government under Donald Trump was "creating a war situation" on the Korean Peninsula by dispatching strategic military assets to the region.
The United States was reportedly ready to strike North Korea if US officials became convinced the country would carry out its test, and the Trump administration said its "strategic patience" with the country has run out.
North Korea has said it is ready to conduct a pre-emptive strike on the U.S. if tensions between Pyongyang and Washington continue to escalate.
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US President Donald Trump's decision to send an "armada" of warships to water off the tense peninsula, coupled with recent US strikes in Syria and Afghanistan, were proof that Washington had chosen the path of "open threat and blackmail", KCNA said.
North Korea has a history of marking significant dates with shows of military capability, and it was its ICBMs that were most notable on the 105th birth anniversary of Kim Il Sung.
"We call on all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not to let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage", Wang said, according to official news agency Xinhua.
"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.
On its website, the group said: "Commercial satellite imagery of North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test site from 12 April shows continued activity around the site's command centre". US satellite imagery suggests the country could conduct another underground nuclear test at any time.
However North Korea refrained from a new test of a ballistic missile ahead of the holiday.
Kim Jong Un, a 30-something leader who took power in late 2011 after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, emphasises nuclear weapons as the foundation of his national defence strategy.
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