Grinning Kim Jong-un and Putin's defence chief salute nuke as it rolls by

Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin’s army chief were all smiles as they reviewed North Korea’s latest nuclear missiles at a vast military parade in Pyongyang.

Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu is believed to have sealed secret agreements for the supply of weapons for the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine.

The widely anticipated parade in the capital on Thursday night commemorated the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, celebrated in North Korea as ‘Victory Day’.

Kim was also joined by Chinese Communist Party Politburo member Li Hongzhong, with the three men pictured laughing, chatting and saluting as troops marched and weapons rolled by below.

The parade included North Korea’s latest Hwasong-17 and Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missiles, according to state media KCNA.

They are believed to have the range to strike targets anywhere in the United States. The event also featured a flyover by new attack and spy drones, KCNA reported.

Kim hosted a reception and had lunch with Shoigu, where the North Korean leader vowed solidarity with the Russian people and its military.

The Russian defence minister praised the North Korean military as the strongest in the world, and the two discussed strategic security and defence cooperation, KCNA said.

At another meeting, Shoigu read a congratulatory speech from Putin who thanked North Korea for its support during the ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine, state media reported.

The US has accused Pyongyang of providing weapons to Russia for its war effort in Ukraine.

State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said on Thursday Washington was ‘incredibly concerned’ about ties between Moscow and Pyongyang.

Pyongyang and Moscow have denied conducting any arms transactions.

The new surveillance drones could be used to survey targets in real time, conduct damage assessment in a war and generally enhance strategic situational awareness, said Ankit Panda of the US-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

In December, five North Korean drones crossed into the South, prompting Seoul’s military to scramble fighter jets and helicopters, and increase anti-drone measures at key facilities, including the presidential office.

The new attack drones would have limited use in a war on the Korean Peninsula given their vulnerability to anti-aircraft defences, but ‘North Korea may seek to offer these drones to external customers’, Panda said.

They were among the weapons displayed at an arms fair toured by Kim and Shoigu this week in Pyongyang, state media photos showed.

North Korea has been under UN sanctions for its missile and nuclear programs since 2006. This includes a ban on the development of ballistic missiles.

In recent years Russia and China have opposed US-led efforts to impose further sanctions on North Korea over its continued pursuit of ballistic missiles, arguing existing measures should be eased for humanitarian purposes and to help entice Pyongyang to negotiate.

The Chinese and Russian presence at events with banned ballistic missiles cast doubts on those countries’ willingness to enforce sanctions, said Leif-Eric Easley, professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

‘It doesn’t help when two permanent members of the UN Security Council openly support a North Korean regime that violates human rights and flouts resolutions banning its nuclear and missile development,’ Easley said.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said: ‘All members of Security Council and, frankly, all member states of the UN, share the same responsibility to uphold Security Council resolutions.’

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