North Korea’s 55th anniversary bereft of missiles

Reclusive communist state North Korea celebrated her 55th anniversary on Tuesday, with much flag waving, patriotic song singing and boot stomping, but its alleged US-base hitting missiles were conspicuously absent.

Chosun Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper, had reported that Pyongyang planned to show off its new ballistic missile, which, with a range of 1,850-2,500 miles, can reach US bases in Guam and Okinawa, Japan.

But only half of the expected 20,000 troops and civilians marched in the two-hour parade through the capital, Pyongyang.

Hundreds of thousands of spectators lined the streets and Kim Jong Il made an appearance in front of TV cameras.

But, crucially, no missiles, tanks or other military hardware were displayed.

However, belligerent rhetoric was heard from Kim Yong Chun, the North’s military’s chief of the general staff.

The official KCNA news agency quoted him as saying: ‘The DPRK (North Korea) will continue to increase its nuclear deterrent force as a means for just self-defence in order to defend the sovereignty of the country as the United States has not yet shown its will to drop its hostile policy towards the DPRK, despite the DPRK’s good faith and magnanimity,’ he was quoted as saying by the official KCNA news agency.”

The Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK, was founded on Sept. 9, 1948.

In October last year, the US announced that North Korea had admitted to a secret nuclear arms programme.

Since that time, the North has reportedly reactivated its Yongbyon nuclear plant, expelled UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors and effectively ended its support for the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Iran, North Korea and the pre-war Iraq, sit on US President Bush’s “axis of evil.”