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North Korea's conventional artillery is advancing, analysts say

North Korea's military parade on Saturday, the 75th anniversary of the Korean Workers' Party, included battle tanks and super-large multiple rocket launchers. Photo by KCNA
North Korea's military parade on Saturday, the 75th anniversary of the Korean Workers' Party, included battle tanks and super-large multiple rocket launchers. Photo by KCNA

Oct. 12 (UPI) -- North Korean conventional weapons capable of placing all of South Korea within range are advancing, analysts say, following Pyongyang's military parade on Saturday when the regime showcased a new intercontinental ballistic missile.

North Korea's new ICBM, shown on a transporter with 11 axles, has received much attention, but the parade also included three kinds of super-large multiple rocket launchers and the KN-23, a North Korean short-range ballistic missile first tested in May 2019.

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South Korean military authorities say they believe North Korea may have improved the performance of multiple rocket launchers by attaching guidance devices and GPS to the weapons, News 1 reported.

A North Korean "tactical guided" weapon, which state media has previously mentioned, was also on display. The conventional weapons have been part of North Korea's force integration since the collapse of the U.S.-North Korea summit in Vietnam, according to the report.

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North Korea also unveiled a new tank at the parade on Saturday. South Korean authorities say the sand-colored tanks appear to have been modeled after the M1 Abrams, a third-generation U.S. main battle tank, South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported Monday.

Ryu Seong-yeop, a research fellow at the Korea Research Institute for Military Affairs, said the North Korean rocket launchers appear to have been built for pinpoint accuracy.

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"It seems North Korea is devoting its spare power to conventional weapons," Ryu said, according to the JoongAng. "South Korea has a strategy of dealing with North Korea's nuclear weapons with overwhelmingly conventional tactics, but as North Korea tries to catch up with South Korea on conventional weapons, concern remains whether the South's strategy will work."

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Yang Wook, a professor of the Graduate School of National Defense Strategy at Hannam University in the South, said it is clear North Korea has turned toward investing in conventional weapons.

Seoul must monitor how much resources will go toward supporting the projects, Yang said.

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