N. Korea parades missiles, drones in anniversary celebration

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North Korea Anniversary Parade


PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared Saturday that his country was ready to stand up to any threat posed by the United States as he spoke at a lavish military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the North's ruling party and trumpet his third-generation leadership.

The parade, which featured thousands of goose-stepping soldiers and military hardware including missiles and drones mounted on trucks, kicked off what is expected to be one of the North's biggest celebrations ever — an attention-getting event that is the government's way of showing the world and its own people that the Kim dynasty is firmly in control and its military a power to be reckoned with.

Kim, clad in black, walked down a red carpet and saluted his honor guard. He then walked up to a podium and waved to the troops taking part in the parade in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square. Visiting Chinese official Liu Yunshan stood clapping to Kim's left, with senior North Korean officials on Kim's right. Kim smiled as he spoke with Liu through an interpreter.

To see more images from the anniversary parade, scroll through the gallery below:

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North Korea Anniversary
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N. Korea parades missiles, drones in anniversary celebration
In this image made from video, the portrait of former North Korea's leaader Kim Jong Il is held atop during the parade marking the 70th anniversary of the country's ruling party in Pyongyang, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. Goose-stepping North Korean soldiers marched through Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square on Saturday in a lavish military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the country's ruling party and trumpet the leadership of third-generation dictator Kim Jong Un. (KRT via AP Video) TV OUT, NORTH KOREA OUT
In this image made from video, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers a speech during the ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the country's ruling party in Pyongyang, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared Saturday that his country was ready to stand up to any threat posed by the United States as he spoke at a lavish military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the North's ruling party and trumpet his third-generation leadership. (KRT via AP Video) TV OUT, NORTH KOREA OUT
In this Oct. 10, 2015 image made from video, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, along with Liu Yunshan, China's Communist Party's No. 5 leader, second right, attends the ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the country's ruling party in Pyongyang. Goose-stepping North Korean soldiers marched through Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square on Saturday in a lavish military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the country's ruling party and trumpet the leadership of third-generation dictator Kim Jong Un. (KRT via AP Video) TV OUT, NORTH KOREA OUT
North Korean soldiers parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. North Korea is holding one of its biggest celebrations for the 70th anniversary of its ruling party's creation. (AP Photo/Maye-E Wong)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gestures as he watches a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. North Korea is holding one of its biggest celebrations for the 70th anniversary of its ruling party's creation. (AP Photo/Maye-E Wong)
In this image made from video, the portrait of late North Korea's founder Kim Il Sung is held atop during parade marking the 70th anniversary of the country's ruling party in Pyongyang, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. Goose-stepping North Korean soldiers marched through Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square on Saturday in a lavish military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the country's ruling party and trumpet the leadership of third-generation dictator Kim Jong Un. (KRT via AP Video) TV OUT, NORTH KOREA OUT
In this image made from video, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, and Liu Yunshan, China's Communist Party's No. 5 leader, center right, wave at the end of the ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the country's ruling party in Pyongyang, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared Saturday that his country was ready to stand up to any threat posed by the United States as he spoke at a lavish military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the North's ruling party and trumpet his third-generation leadership. (KRT via AP Video) TV OUT, NORTH KOREA OUT
North Korean soldiers parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. North Korea is holding one of its biggest celebrations for the 70th anniversary of its ruling party's creation. (AP Photo/Maye-E Wong)
In this Oct. 10, 2015 image made from video, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, along with Liu Yunshan, China's Communist Party's No. 5 leader, second right, claps hands during the ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the country's ruling party in Pyongyang. Goose-stepping North Korean soldiers marched through Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square on Saturday in a lavish military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the country's ruling party and trumpet the leadership of third-generation dictator Kim Jong Un. (KRT via AP Video) TV OUT, NORTH KOREA OUT
In this image made from video, North Korean jet planes fly over the Kim Il Sung Square during the ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the country's ruling party in Pyongyang, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared Saturday that his country was ready to stand up to any threat posed by the United States as he spoke at a lavish military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the North's ruling party and trumpet his third-generation leadership. (KRT via AP Video) TV OUT, NORTH KOREA OUT
In this image made from video, North Korean military vehicles parade at the Kim Il Sung Square during the ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the country's ruling party in Pyongyang, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared Saturday that his country was ready to stand up to any threat posed by the United States as he spoke at a lavish military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the North's ruling party and trumpet his third-generation leadership. (KRT via AP Video) TV OUT, NORTH KOREA OUT
In this image made from video, North Korean military personnel perform at the Kim Il Sung Square during the ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the country's ruling party in Pyongyang, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared Saturday that his country was ready to stand up to any threat posed by the United States as he spoke at a lavish military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the North's ruling party and trumpet his third-generation leadership. (KRT via AP Video) TV OUT, NORTH KOREA OUT
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Kim then delivered a speech in which he said North Korea would stand up to the U.S., issuing the type of fiery rhetoric that is commonly used by the North.

"Our revolutionary force is ready to respond to any kind of war the American imperialists want," said Kim, whose speech was interrupted by applause several times.

"Through the line of Songun (military-first) politics, our Korean People's Army has become the strongest revolutionary force and our country has become an impenetrable fortress and a global military power," he said.

After his speech, thousands of soldiers held up colored cards to spell out "Songun politics" and "Defending our homeland."

In a military parade that followed, tanks, armored vehicles, rocket launchers and a variety of missiles mounted on trucks rolled by, while military planes flew in formation above the square, forming the symbol of the Workers' Party of Korea — a hammer, brush and sickle. Another group of planes formed the number 70 in the sky.

An expert at the Korea Institute for Defense Analysis, a security think tank in Seoul, Jin Moo Kim, said North Korea revealed a new 300-millimeter rocket launcher and drones. It also displayed a KN-08 ballistic missile, with an estimated range of 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) that the country had previously shown off in 2012. Kim said the presence of Liu might have prevented the North from revealing its most provocative weapons.

Thousands of civilian marchers followed, holding colored cards to spell out Kim's name, and he responded by waving to the crowd and holding the hand of Liu, the visiting Chinese official.

Click through to take a look at daily life in the secretive country:

30 PHOTOS
Take a look inside North Korean daily life
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N. Korea parades missiles, drones in anniversary celebration
FILE - In this Sept. 1, 2014, photo, a clock is visible on top of a train station in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea said Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, that it will establish its own time zone next week by pulling back its current standard time by 30 minutes. Local time in North and South Korea and Japan is the same — nine hours ahead of GMT. It was set during Japan's rule over what was single Korea from 1910 to 1945. The establishment of "Pyongyang time" is meant to root out the legacy of the Japanese colonial period, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)
In this June 19, 2014 photo, a North Korean man pushes his bicycle to a village in North Korea's North Hamgyong province. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 15, 2014 photo, the remains of lunch sits on a restaurant table in the city of Wonsan, North Korea. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 20, 2014 photo, a North Korean man stands in front of a row of homes in the town of Kimchaek, in North Korea's North Hamgyong province. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
North Koreans gather together on the steps of Mansu Hill to lay flowers at the base of statues of the late leaders, Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, in Pyongyang, North Korea, Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, the eve of the second anniversary of the death of Kim Jong Il. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 21, 2014 photo, a group of young North Koreans enjoys a picnic on the beach in Wonsan, North Korea. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 17, 2014 photo, a North Korean man sits by a cooking fire he built to roast potatoes and chicken in the town of Samjiyon, in North Korea's Ryanggang province. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
North Korean aerobics instructors practice a routine at a dance studio inside the newly-opened Kumrung Sports Exercise Center in Pyongyang, North Korea on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013. Building new recreational and health facilities has been a cornerstone of leader Kim Jong Un's efforts to fulfill a promise made to raise living standards in North Korea. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 20, 2014 photo, North Korean people rest next to the railroad tracks in a town in North Korea's North Hamgyong province. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 16, 2014 photo, North Korean men share a picnic lunch and North Korean-brewed and bottled Taedonggang beer along the road in North Korea's North Hwanghae province. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 20, 2014 photo, young North Korean schoolchildren help to fix pot holes in a rural road in North Korea's North Hamgyong province. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
North Korean women in colorful traditional dresses are surrounded by flower blossoms known as "Kimilsungia" as they wait to guide guests at a flower exhibition in Pyongyang, North Korea Monday, April 14, 2014. The flowers, named after Kim Il Sung, are on display to celebrate the late leader's official birth date of April 15, 1912. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 14, 2014 photo, portraits of the late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are illuminated on a building side as the sun rises over Pyongyang. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
FILE - In this Sept. 1, 2014, photo, a clock hangs on the wall as North Koreans leave an underground train station in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea said Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, that it will establish its own time zone next week by pulling back its current standard time by 30 minutes. Local time in North and South Korea and Japan is the same — nine hours ahead of GMT. It was set during Japan's rule over what was single Korea from 1910 to 1945. The establishment of "Pyongyang time" is meant to root out the legacy of the Japanese colonial period, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)
North Korea's capital Pyongyang, viewed from a window of an Air Koryo flight arriving from Beijing, stands on the horizon on Thursday, May 8, 2014. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this Monday, June 16, 2014 photo, a North Korean man driving an ox cart protects himself in a rainstorm south of Hyesan, North Korea in Ryanggang province. For more than four decades, farming in North was characterized by heavy use of mechanization and technological innovations, swiftly followed by chronic fuel and equipment shortages and long-term damage caused by stopgap policies. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
North Korean children climb steps near Mansu Hill in Pyongyang on their way to lay flowers at the feet of bronze statues of the late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on Saturday, April 12, 2014. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 21, 2014 photo, a man works on his car as others sit next to the sea Wonsan, North Korea. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 16, 2014 photo, statues of animals playing musical instruments stand along the roadside south of Samsu, North Korea in Ryanggang province. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 20, 2014 photo, exhaust fumes, like fog, spills out of the long Hamgwan Tunnel near Hamhung in North Korea's South Hamgyong province. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
10ThingstoSeeSports - North Korean spectators watch from the stands of Kim Il Sung Stadium as runners line up at the start of the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon in Pyongyang, North Korea on Sunday, April 13, 2014. The annual race, which includes a full marathon, a half marathon, and a 10-kilometer run, was open to foreign tourists for the first time this year. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)
A North Korean man helps a woman fire a bow and arrow at a firing range at the Meari Shooting Gallery in Pyongyang on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 17, 2014 photo, a North Korean man takes shelter in the rain next to long propaganda billboards in the town of Samjiyon in North Korea's Ryanggang province. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 21, 2014 photo, a woman walks along an open road southeast of Pyongyang in North Korea's North Hwanghae province. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 19, 2014 photo, a hotel employee walks in the lobby of a hotel that accommodates foreign visitors in Chongjin, North Korea. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In June 18, 2014 photo, a boulder lies on a path near the peak of Mount Paektu in North Korea's Ryanggang province. North Koreans venerate Mount Paektu for its natural beauty, but more importantly because it is considered the home of the North Korean revolution. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 16, 2014 photo, farmers walk in a rainstorm with their cattle near the town of Hyesan, North Korea in Ryanggang province. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country's spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this June 21, 2014 photo, a row of bicycles are parked next to the sea Wonsan, North Korea. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
In this Monday, June 16, 2014 photo, North Korean men rest along the roadside north of Samsu, North Korea in Ryanggang province. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
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The guest list was less impressive.

While no world leaders attended — North Korean ally China sent Liu, a senior Communist Party official, not its head of state, or even vice premier — the normally isolated and quiet North Korean capital has been flooded by tourists, international media and delegations ranging from ethnic Koreans living abroad to obscure Russian and Mongolian groups dedicated to studying North Korea's political ideas.

As the clock struck midnight Friday, Kim marked the anniversary by paying respect to both his late father and grandfather at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency, or KCNA.

Even though North Korean officials did not divulge details of the celebration plans in advance, open-source satellite imagery has been monitoring large-scale troop activities at the Mirim military air base in Pyongyang, which has been rigged with a mock-up of Kim Il Sung Square. Masses of Pyongyang citizens have for weeks been out in public plazas across the city practicing their roles for a torchlight parade in the evening.

For the finale, a stage was set up on a river running through central Pyongyang for a late-night concert featuring North Korea's most popular musical group, the all-female Moranbong Band. Tickets for foreigners hoping to attend the concert were going for 100 euros ($114) a pop.

The spectacle promised to be the most elaborate since Kim assumed power after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in late 2011, and the satellite imagery suggests the military parade could be the country's biggest ever.

On Friday, senior state officials led a mass gathering in Pyongyang singing the praises of the party and the leader.

Also on Friday, Kim met with the Chinese delegation led by Liu, the Communist Party's No. 5 leader, and Liu delivered a message by Chinese President Xi Jinping, KCNA said.

China's official Xinhua News Agency reported that Liu told Kim that China was willing to work with North Korea for a quick resumption of six-party nuclear talks. The talks, which aim to end the North's nuclear program and also involve the U.S., South Korea, Russia and Japan, stalled seven years ago.

Some foreign analysts believe the particularly strong emphasis this year on making the anniversary of the party's foundation such a lavish fete is a sign that Kim is trying to build up his own stature along with that of the party relative to the military.

Though Kim's leadership and both institutions are strong, the power balance among various government organs in North Korea is a delicate one and maintaining that balance is a key to keeping Kim's regime solid and unchallenged.

North Korea maintains its "military-first policy," which it says is necessary to counter threats from South Korea and the United States, but officials have recently stressed the role of the party in improving the standard of living for the people, who are increasingly aware of how far they lag behind their affluent cousins south of the Demilitarized Zone and in economic giant China.

In the run-up to this year's anniversary, large-scale construction and development projects have been launched and hailed with great fanfare in the state media.

The projects include new hydropower plants and high-rise apartments, but it is unclear how much of North Korea's limited financial resources have been put into improving the lot of the majority of its citizens who are not fortunate enough to live in the relatively developed and affluent capital.

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