Satellite images show scale of planned North Korea parade

GMT 11:10 2015 Friday ,09 October

Arab Today, arab today Satellite images show scale of planned North Korea parade

Pedestrians make their way along a street
Seoul - AFP

Satellite imagery from North Korea shows it has amassed hundreds of trucks, armoured vehicles, troops and horses for a massive military parade to mark Saturday's 70th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party.

The North traditionally marks major anniversaries with large-scale shows of strength in a display of patriotic fervour and observers say this weekend's spectacle could be one of the biggest in history.

Images obtained on October 6 by the US-Korea Institute think tank at Johns Hopkins University show a sprawling training ground in Pyongyang featuring some 800 tents, 700 trucks and 200 armoured vehicles ahead of Saturday's spectacle.

The reclusive communist state is pulling out all the stops for "what may be one of the largest military parades in North Korea's history", the group said on its closely watched 38 North website.

The photos show troops moving around the grounds and mounted horses standing in formation. Tanks and drones can also be seen, along with large hangars that North 38 said could be housing rocket launchers or weaponry.

"The ballistic missile launchers and long-range self-propelled guns that are the stars of North Korean military parades are not identifiable, they may be under the large temporary shelter," the website said.

"Alternatively they could arrive a day or two before the parade as sometimes has happened in the past."

The grounds are 1.5 square kilometres (0.6 square miles) and include a replica of Kim Il Sung Square, named after North Korea's founding father, where the actual parade will take place Saturday, 38 North said.

"Throughout the facility numerous groups of troops are seen assembling and moving in formation around the practice track, passing before the replica reviewing stand," according to the site.

North Korea has been primped and primed ahead of the lavish parade, with statues of former leaders erected throughout the country.

In the frenzy leading up to the event, the capital has been plastered with posters and banners extolling the party's achievements.

Preparations for the anniversary celebrations began in May when tents were erected at the former airbase and troops and equipment were shipped in.

There has been speculation in recent weeks that North Korea could mark the day with a satellite rocket launch and, in the following weeks, a fourth nuclear test.

But despite numerous hints from Pyongyang to the contrary, satellite images and South Korean intelligence have uncovered no tangible signs that a rocket launch is imminent.

In addition to promoting national pride, mass military parades have in the past emphasised loyalty to the supreme leader, Kim Jong-Un, who is almost certain to preside over Saturday's affair.

Such events are one of the rare occasions when foreign press are allowed in the country, though their movements are largely restricted.

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