Kim Jong-un could unveil ‘biggest-ever’ nuke missile this weekend after promising big ‘surprise’ for Donald TrumpOctober 7, 2020
NORTH Korea may be preparing to unveil a never-before-seen nuclear missile in a massive army parade on Saturday.
Satellite photos show Kim Jong-un's military secretly preparing for the event, and experts believe Pyongyang may offer up a "surprise" for the West.
Kim's military is expected to be on parade to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the North Korea's ruling Communist Party.
Pictures show hundreds of vehicles parked up and troops in formation as North Korea prepares for the event which is taking place despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Structures have been erected on a training ground which may be housing trucks carrying new missiles.
Experts told The Sun Online that the highly secretive North Korea has been taking extra care to keep its preparations under wraps.
And they have said it is likely the world may see a new weapon – possibly Kim's biggest ever missile – on Saturday.
It is theorised the reveal could be a new land-based nuclear missile or a submarine-launched weapon.
Dr Ramon Pacheco-Pardo, an associate professor in international relations at King's College London, told The Sun Online he expects Kim may unveil a new ICBM.
He said: "I think they will unveil something new, intelligence tells us that it probably will be an ICBM."
North Korea may use the reveal as a statement of intent and publicity stunt to bump themselves up the agenda going into the US election.
However, experts were divided as to whether Kim would be backing his old pal Donald Trump or be hoping for a change of pace with Joe Biden.
Dr Pacheco-Pardo described now as the "perfect time" for North Korea to reveal the new weapon.
He said it will allow them to capitalise on the 75th anniversary, to make good on promises of a "surprise", and to distract from the country's dire domestic situation.
The expert said: "From what we know, there are indications they are working hard on a new ICBM and that is more threatening to the US."
He added: "At the very least in unveiling a new ICBM you would expect the range to be better.
"The range of the current missiles is estimated to reach the whole of the US land mass. But we don't know for sure.
"In a sense, any lingering doubts over whether their missiles can reach the US would be gone with a new ICBM."
Dr Pacheco-Pardo added he doesn't believe there will be a strong reaction from the US given the ongoing domestic problems in the states.
However, he added "but you never know with Trump".
North Korea's current largest missile is the Hwasong-15, which was first successfully tested on November 28, 2017.
It is believed to be able to have the range to reach the entirety of the US.
South Korea and US intelligence have warned a missile "larger" than the Hwasong-15 has been spotted being moved near Pyongyang, reports Straits Times.
"The missile is larger than the one they fired in 2017 and we believe they will showcase that at a military parade on Oct 10," an official said.
North Korean state media called for "scientists and technicians to glorify the great October festival" with a breakthrough in "field of national defence" back in February.
Satellite pictures have shown what is believed to be a missile carrying vehicles at the Mirim Parade Training Ground outside Pyongyang ahead of Saturday.
Kim vowed at the start of the year to unveil a new unspecified "strategic weapon" and cryptically promised a "gift" last December.
Work has also been carried out to reinforce a bridge along the parade route, according analysis by 38North.
Tom Plant, director of proliferation and nuclear policy at the Royal United Services Institute, told The Sun Online he expects North Korea to unveil a new weapons system soon – but said it may not be on Saturday.
He said: "North Korea has a pretty good heritage of giving the incoming US President something to think about so it pushes them up the agenda.
"Whether they do that now, or they until November – who knows.
"But they certainly have an interest in doing something, I would be surprised if we do not see something of that nature over the next three to four months."
The expert said Kim has a "vast array" of weapons in development to choose from, so identifying exactly what it may be is "difficult".
Mr Plant said a new submarine- launched missile, which has been the subject for months of speculation amid of flurry of activity at Kim's naval base in Sinpo, would be "very ambitious".
He added: "The North Korea issue is not going away, and its going to get harder to resolve as times goes on."
Edward Howell, a researcher in International Relations at the University of Oxford, suggested previous plans by North Korea for a new weapon may have been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He suggested the early closure of its land border with China, its biggest trade partner, could have hampered the development.
But Mr Howell added the world still may see a new weapon on Saturday.
He said: "We just don't know the specifics, it could be a new type of missile.
"But on the other hand, Kim may hold off and use the October 10 parade to display North Korea's existing set of missiles and its development to show its not putting its foot off the pedal.
"Another strategy may be to wait until after the US election."
"The benefit of waiting is North Korea can calculate its policy, especially now as the outcome of the election is quite uncertain. It might play to North Korea's advantage."
The expert added any new weapon could represent a step forward in North Korea's "increasingly sophisticated" nuclear capabilities.
With the increasingly bitter US election just weeks away, the experts were divided as to what outcome Kim would like to see.
Mr Howell said he expects North Korea would "prefer" a victory for Trump as he allows them to seek "equivalence" and "recognition" on world stage.
He also said Trump's perspective on the US alliance with South Korea as a "financial burden" plays well for Kim.
Dr Pacheco-Pardo however said he expects Kim to hoping for a Biden win as the Democrat would seek a deal through "proper diplomatic process" between the US and North Korea.
He added with Trump you "might get it, you might not", but said the failure of talks with the US in at the summit Hanoi means Kim cannot afford "lose face" again.
Mr Plant said either way the election goes, it is a "long hard road ahead" for the US and North Korea.
But he added he suspects that North Korea believe they "have Trump's measure", while a win for Biden would be a "return to what they came to expect" from the US.
North Korea and the US had been furiously threatening each other in 2017 before relations warned the following year – but talks have since stagnated as the US urges Kim to give up his nukes.
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