Seoul: North Korea mobilizes 50,000 for upcoming military parade

By Jennie Oh  |  Jan. 29, 2018 at 3:32 AM
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SEOUL, South Korea, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- North Korea appears to have mobilized tens of thousands of troops and civilians for a massive military parade next week, South Korean officials said Monday.

Earlier this month, Seoul detected 13,000 personnel near Pyongyang's Mirim Airport, training in what appeared to be a rehearsal for a military parade to mark the founding of the North Korean army on Feb. 8.

However, the figure has risen to roughly 50,000 as of late, according to multiple officials in Seoul.

One official said the parade is likely to include card stunts, given the large number of participants, and that there haven't been signs that indicate transporter-erector-launcher missile vehicles will be deployed at the event.

North Korea's military parades usually showcase the regime's latest weapons and hardware.

In 2016, the North marked the birth of the regime's late founder Kim Il-sung with a parade that revealed a lineup of ballistic missiles, including new intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

South Korean defense officials say, if held, the upcoming military event is likely to be follow a "similar pattern" of the parade in 2016.

Ro Jae-cheon, Spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday that the South Korean army is constantly tracking and monitoring movements in the North, in coordination with the U.S.

Regarding concerns that the North may launch another provocation, Ro said the allies are maintaining a full readiness posture against such eventuality, Yonhap reported.

At a forum in Singapore, South Korea's Defense Minister Song Young-moo warned the North against a possible provocation, while expressing doubt that the Pyongyang would recklessly carry out a nuclear attack.

"The North Korean leadership will be wiped off the map if it targets South Korea or the United States with nuclear weapons," he said, according to Chosun Ilbo.

The minister said it is unlikely the North would use its nukes to launch an offensive strike, saying the threat of a nuclear attack was simply part of the North's propaganda tactics thus it is unlikely that the regime would actually carry it out.

The minister added that the North's idea of using nuclear weapons to unite the two Koreas was a backwards way of thinking.

Also, regarding questions over the redeployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons to the South, Song said he has made clear Seoul remains committed to its denuclearization policy.

However, he added the South will continue to cooperate with the U.S. to "completely suppress" the North's nuclear threats, through their joint military power and information-sharing capacity.

On that note, the minister reaffirmed that South Korea will never accept the North as a nuclear state and that it will continue to pursue a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the peninsula.

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