Kim Jong Un presided over a tempered military parade Sunday in the latest sign that he wants to revive stalled nuclear talks with the U.S.
Kim marked the 70th anniversary of his grandfather’s regime without showing off hardware such as long-range ballistic missiles that would likely have angered President Donald Trump, who said in June that North Korea is “no longer a nuclear threat.”
“Kim wants to bask in the glory of his achievement and show to the world that he is someone to be taken seriously,” Markus Schiller, a missile expert and founder of the Munich-based security consulting firm ST Analytics, said before the parade began Sunday morning. “There is no need to display something new.”
Nearly half of the military parade was devoted to showcasing civilian efforts to build the country’s economy, the Associated Press reported. In the past, North Korea has used such pageants to show off its most advanced weapons, including intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the U.S.
The parade comes at a delicate time, as Kim presses for a peace declaration to officially end the war North Korea and China fought against U.S.-led forces in 1950-53. Kim got to the bargaining table in part by promising not to resume nuclear tests, and he could use peace talks to legitimize his regime and get international sanctions relaxed.
The U.S.’s newly appointed special representative for North Korea, former Ford Motor Co. executive Steve Biegun, was due in the region Monday. And South Korean President Moon Jae-in is to travel to Pyongyang Sept. 18 for the first such trip in 11 years.
The parties are struggling to implement a document signed by Trump and Kim in June at the first summit between sitting U.S. and North Korean leaders. The two pledged to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” without setting a timetable or explaining what that means.
Analysts closely watched for pronouncements by Kim that could suggest a new challenge to the U.S. or willingness to compromise. But several media reports from Pyongyang said Kim attended the parade but did not address the assembled crowd.
In April 2017, as tensions with Trump were escalating, Kim paraded a series of missile canisters through Kim Il Sung Square that foreshadowed his later test of a rocket capable of reaching the U.S. A February event, which came during the first diplomatic breakthroughs between the two sides, was much smaller and displayed no obvious new threats to the U.S.
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