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North Korea brandishes long-range nuclear strike capabilities at parade

A television screen, on 9 February 2023, showing news of North Korea's military parade, during which the regime carried out its largest-known display of ICBMs. (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images)

Pyongyang carried out the largest-known display of its long-range nuclear strike capabilities on 8 February when it celebrated the 75th founding anniversary of its army.

On display at the parade include about a dozen 11 axel transporter erector launcher (TEL) vehicles with what appears to be either the Hwaseong-16 or Hwaseong-17 two-stage intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Both the Hwaseong-16 and Hwaseong-17 were first unveiled at a similar military parade in 2020, and both are estimated to be about 25–26 m in length and about 2.8 m in diameter.

Both missiles are designed with a nosecone that is large enough to carry multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs) and post-boost vehicles. Both the weapons have an estimated range of about 8,000 miles (12,875 km).

These weapons are the largest ICBMs that North Korea has developed thus far. During a test-firing of what is claimed to be the Hwaseong-17 missile in March 2022, Pyongyang said that the weapon flew at a distance of about 1,090 km before landing in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) – marking the longest range that a North Korean ICBM has achieved.

Also seen at the parade is what appears to be either a new solid-fuel ICBM, or a canisterised presentation of the Hwaseong-15, which was said to have been first launched in 2017.

Besides the ICBMs, North Korea also showcased its new main battle tank (MBT) that was first seen at a parade in 2020 and a new tracked self-propelled gun howitzer (SPGH) during the parade.

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