As North Korea celebrates its 70th anniversary with a lavish military parade, one conspicuous absence in the form of its national arsenal was notable, the BBC reports. Whereas in years past the yearly parade would feature not only tanks and infantrymen — as were present at this year’s march — but also ICBMs, said missiles remained absent from the festivities conducted in Pyongyang today.
As CNN reports, it appears that Kim Jong Un has decided to refrain from the display of intercontinental ballistic missiles which routinely roll their way past the North Korean leader’s vantage point during the annual parade. The most likely motive behind such a move is to downplay any chance of antagonizing President Trump, given that the ICBMs are the only conveyance capable of potentially delivering a payload to most of the continental United States.
ABC correspondent Martha Raddatz — perhaps most famous with regards to President Trump inasmuch as she inserted herself into the second presidential debate conducted between him and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton — spoke to the nature of the anniversary celebrations, reporting from the North Korean capitol.
“It is a massive spectacle, precision marching bands, fireworks, balloons and planes forming a 70 in the sky. The guest of honor, Kim Jong Un, who was just above us in the square named after his grandfather. Today, presiding over an adoring crowd and an incredible display of North Korea’s military… But it wasn’t what was included in today’s parade that got everyone’s attention — it was what was left out. There were tanks and artillery, but no display of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Last February, before the Singapore Summit, ICBMs — the kind believed capable of reaching the U.S. with a nuclear warhead — were rolled proudly past Kim. Today, nothing even remotely threatening to the U.S. mainland.”
The news comes on the heels of a revelation that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, often perceived to be a point man in the ongoing negotiations surrounding the requested denuclearization of North Korea and the attendant peace talks, was en route back to Washington with a private letter from Kim Jong Un to Donald Trump. According to TIME, it is unclear as to whether or not the letter has been delivered as yet, though it seems eminently likely that President Trump, by now, has been made aware of its contents.
The letter from North Korea comes in response to a letter passed along via Mike Pompeo to North Korea’s foreign minister during the recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting held early in August, CNN reports.
This correspondence is seen as an encouraging sign by both those hoping for a peaceful resolution to the North Korean question as well as by the Trump administration. The news comes on the heels of a spirited statement made by a South Korean envoy that Kim Jong Un had told him personally that North Korea would like to see denuclearization by the end of Trump’s current term of office, according to The New York Times.