The supreme leader took centre stage at a massive military parade and public rally in Pyongyang to mark the 75th anniversary of the country’s ruling party. Footage showed a 22-wheeled transporter carrying the seemingly-new weaponry – thought to be larger than anything previously displayed by the country. The secretive state is believed to have continued to develop its arsenal – which it says it needs to protect itself from a US invasion – after negotiations with Washington stalled following the collapse of a summit in Hanoi last year.
During the week, officials in South Korea said that Kim could use the anniversary as a “low intensity” show of power, and analysts believe he did just that, unveiling what is thought to be a new “doomsday missile” – an ICMB capable of reaching the US mainland.
But all may not be as it seems.
The North has come under fire before for his parades, with one US Army intelligence officer dubbing the weapons on display as “laughable”.
Michael Pregend examined pictures taken in Pyongyang and said the equipment was unfit for combat.
He stated: “This was more about sending a message than being combat effective.”
What appeared to be AK-47 assault rifles with attached grenade-launchers were really ‘helical magazines,’ a rifle notorious for jamming, according to the expert.
Mr Prgand claimed even sunglasses worn by soldiers were not fit for purpose, adding: “Military glasses are wraparound and would also protect your eyes.”
The pictures were taken during North Korea’s biggest public Holiday – the Day of the Sun – which commemorated the birthday of Kim Il-sung, the founder of the communist country.
However, other weapons experts were less confident that North Korean weapons were dummies.
David S Maxwell, a retired US army special forces colonel who served in Korea and Japan, told The Independent that the parade was “a show but most of the equipment shown historically has not been fake.”
He added: “Most of the time they show things still being developed and tested.”
Shannon Kile, a nuclear specialist at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) also said it was probably going to far to say they weapons were all fake, “but we shouldn’t rule it out”.
He added in 2017: “It is possible that the North Koreans are hoodwinking us. We don’t know that these are actual operational systems. We’ve been deceived in the past by what turned out to be missile mock-ups.
“Sometimes they change how they’re painted or how they’re held on the trucks and it makes it difficult to see what’s happening.”
Today’s event took place before dawn and was later broadcasted across North and South Korea.
Speaking at the event, Kim told North Koreans he would pre-emptively mobilise his strongest military power if threatened, but added that he was not taking aim at any country in particular.
He said North Korea would continue to build “self-defensive deterrence” and apologised for living standards in the country, as well as the coronavirus pandemic.
Kim added: ”I am ashamed that I have never been able to repay you properly for your enormous trust.
“My efforts and devotion were not sufficient to bring our people out of difficult livelihoods.”
He told the crowds that nobody in the country had contracted the disease – a claim refuted repeatedly by South Korea and the US.
Foreign ambassadors in Pyongyang are usually invited to the celebrations, but the Russian Embassy said on social media that it had been advised not to travel in the city and refrain from taking photos and videos at the venue.
Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) also reported that the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, sent a letter to Kim saying that Beijing would continue to “defend, consolidate and develop” bilateral relations with Pyongyang.