N. Korea gears up to celebrate birthday of country's founder

China banned all imports of North Korean coal on February 26 under United Nations sanctions, cutting off the North's most important export product.

In this image made from video provided by North Korean broadcaster KRT, missiles are paraded at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, Saturday, April 15, 2017. Third-generation dictator Kim Jong Un watched in delight from a podium. Amid rising regional tensions, Pyongyang residents have been preparing for North Korea's most important holiday: the 105th birth anniversary of Kim Il Sung, the country's late founder and grandfather of current ruler Kim Jong Un.

He will also aim to reassure allies in South Korea and Japan that the US will take appropriate steps to defend them against North Korean aggression. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has appeared in a massive parade.

The sharp language came after US President Donald Trump said the North Korea problem "will be taken care of", as speculation mounts that the state could be preparing another nuclear or missile test.

But if the parade signaled a readiness for war, North Korea has long insisted that its goal is peace - and survival - with the growing arsenal a way to ensure that the government in Pyongyang is not easily overthrown.

Any US strike on North Korea could prompt retaliation against allies or US forces in South Korea or Japan.

The North has said it has developed and would launch a missile that can strike the mainland United States but officials and experts believe it is some time away from mastering all the necessary technology.

However, days later, he tweeted: "North Korea is looking for trouble".

"Trump is always making provocations with his aggressive words".

"I say this because Trump tweeted that the DPRK, North Korea, is looking for trouble and it's none other than the U.S. that is posing threats toward the DPRK with the largest scale ever military exercises (with South Korea) and the nuclear aircraft carrier Carl Vinson which was bound for Australia is now coming back to the Korean Peninsula".

Pyongyang has expressed anger over the annual spring military exercises the US holds with South Korea, which it considers an invasion rehearsal.

"The president and his military team are aware of North Korea's most recent unsuccessful missile launch", Mattis said.

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He then walked up to a podium and clapped with senior government officials to address the thousands of soldiers and a massive crowd taking part in the parade in capital Pyongyang.

The parade, an elaborate display of the state's huge power, involves tens of thousands of participants, from goose-stepping soldiers to crowds of civilians who have spent weeks perfecting their ability to wave plastic flowers in unison.

North Korean state television showed what appeared to be several KN-08 and KN-14 missiles rolled out on trucks at the parade Saturday celebrating the 105th birthday of Kim Il Sung.

The Sun reports that Pyongyang's Vice Minister Han Song Ryol warned Mr Trump against provoking North Korea militarily and that "we will go to war if they choose". Being North Korea's ally, China didn't also approve its plans.

The parade also featured the "Pukguksong-2", a land-based variant of the submarine-launched missile.

Kim, the analyst, said it's likely that North Korea is also developing solid-fuel ICBMs, and that some of the rockets inside the canisters on Saturday might have been prototypes.

Other military hardware at the parade included tanks, multiple rocket launchers and artillery guns, as well as a solid-fuel missile created to be fired from submarines.

Chad O'Carroll, managing director of specialist service NK News, told AFP they could be a liquid-fuelled intercontinental ballistic missile, or an early version of one, even though Pyongyang has yet to formally announce it has an operational ICBM.

Kim, a 30-something leader who took power in late 2011, emphasizes nuclear weapons as the foundation of his national defense strategy.

The nuclear-armed North is under United Nations sanctions over its weapons programmes, and has ambitions to build a rocket capable of delivering a warhead to the U.S. mainland -- something Trump has vowed "won't happen".

Senior US intelligence sources claimed Kim Jong-un is in the final stages of preparing for his sixth nuclear test - with Mr Trump warning that he will not hesitate to respond if it reaches for the trigger.

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