North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un Saturday saluted as ranks of goose-stepping soldiers followed by tanks and other military hardware paraded in Pyongyang for a show of strength with tensions mounting over his nuclear ambitions.
A senior North Korean government official says the country is ready to stand up to any threat posed by the United States as he spoke at an huge parade celebrating the birthday of the country's founder Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of current ruler Kim Jong Un.
Kim Jong Un kicked off the parade commemorating the 105th anniversary of his late grandfather's birthday and rolled out a military arsenal that also included submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), which also made their debut on Saturday.
North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, including two a year ago.
The birth anniversary called "The Day of the Sun" is a public holiday usually marked by grand military parades, mass celebrations and other large displays of national pride.
A North Korean missile exploded during launch Sunday from the country's east coast, US and South Korean officials said, a high-profile failure that comes as a powerful USA aircraft carrier approaches the Korean Peninsula in a show of force.
For outside military analysts, though, the highlight is the weaponry that the North puts on display.
The United States is assessing military options in response to North Korea's weapons programmes, a White House foreign policy advisor confirmed on Friday, saying another provocative test was a question of "when" rather than "if".
"North Korea believes the only way to deter the USA from attacking them and maintaining the power of the Kim regime is by the possession of nuclear weapons", Bermudez said.
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Celebrations in North Korea traditionally include singing and dancing, fireworks, an global marathon, a military parade and a display of military strength and weapon capabilities.
A White House foreign policy adviser said on Friday that the US was assessing military options, and added that another provocative test was a question of "when" rather than "if". Cold launches would also allow the missiles to be fired from silos.
"Ryomyong Street is an accomplishment that the North wants to promote on the economic front", said an official at Seoul's unification ministry. The country launched a long-range rocket and conducted the two nuclear tests a year ago, including its most powerful to date.
A surprise at the parade was the appearance of Kim Won Hong, who was among the senior government officials joining Kim Jong Un at the podium. It 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 the necessary technology.
Vice President Mike Pence is expected to visit Seoul, South Korea, today to meet with troops and kick off a tour of Asia. The country under his watch has been aggressively pursuing a goal of putting a nuclear warhead on an ICBM capable of reaching the continental United States.
The test was not publicized inside North Korea.
North Korea conducted two such tests previous year alone, which analysts say would have taken the country a step forward in gaining the knowledge to make nuclear weapons small enough to fit on long-range missiles.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff says that North Korea has attempted to launch a missile from an eastern coastal city, but the launch appeared to end in failure. Recent satellite imagery suggests the country could conduct another underground nuclear test at any time. South Korea has a spotty record of tracking developments in North Korea, as information about the secretive, authoritarian state is often impossible to confirm.