North Korea's Kim Jong-un in first major public speech

Lucy Williamson: "There seems to be a new warmth from him personally"

North Korean new leader Kim Jong-un has made his first televised public speech, as Pyongyang marks the centenary of the birth of the country's founder.

He offered respects to grandfather Kim Il-sung and late father Kim Jong-il.

Mr Kim praised the "military first" doctrine and said the time his nation could be threatened was "forever over".

There was also a huge military parade in the main square which unveiled what appeared to be a large new missile - two days after a failed rocket launch.

The launch was condemned by the international community, amid concern that it was a covert test of long-range missile technology.

Start Quote

Parade in Pyongyang, 15 April

Let us move forward to final victory”

End Quote Kim Jong-un North Korean leader

During Sunday's military parade, North Korea showed what appeared to be a large new missile.

The BBC's Lucy Williamson in Seoul says the missile was camouflaged and carried on a 16-wheel truck, far bigger than the other trucks in the parade. Such a missile would be larger than the nation's current weaponry, she says.

Our correspondent says the US has been making vague references to North Korea pushing ahead with an inter-continental ballistic missile programme (ICBM), although there is no confirmation that this apparent missile is related.

One South Korean rocket scientist, Sohn Young-hwan, told Associated Press it was more likely an intermediate-range ballistic missile, not an ICBM.

'Military first'

North Korean television footage showed thousands of soldiers carrying red flags marching into the square to the sound of drumbeats during the parade.

This was the first time Kim Jong-un, believed to be in his late 20s, has spoken publicly since taking power following the death of his father in December.

Analysis

From behind a bank of microphones, North Korea's young leader fidgeted restlessly as he addressed the crowds. He praised the achievements of his father and grandfather in making North Korea a "strong country" and a "strong military power".

He also alluded to the country's massive economic problems - saying that the people would no longer have to tighten their belts. But the biggest surprise was the speech itself - his father is said to have spoken publicly just once in his 17-year rule.

But Kim Jong-un has already adopted a very different style - on the balcony above Pyongyang's main square today, he laughed and joked freely with senior officials, as a parade of the country's massive missiles rolled past.

"I express my greetings to our compatriots in South Korea and across the world who dedicate themselves to reunification and the prosperity of the nations," he said reading from a script, in an address that lasted more than 20 minutes, as the crowds applauded throughout.

Mr Kim said peace was important but national pride more so.

"Let us move forward to final victory," he said.

Mr Kim praised the country's "military first" policy.

"Superiority in military technology is no longer monopolised by imperialists," he said, adding: "We have to make every effort to reinforce the people's armed forces."

Mr Kim said the time when nuclear weapons could threaten and blackmail his country was "forever over".

The speech marks a significant change in profile for North Korean leaders.

Kim Jong-il is thought to have made one recorded public utterance in his 18-year rule - and that was a single sentence.

After the speech, soldiers marched past and saluted the leader.

They were followed by tanks and artillery, and a final fly-over by five fighter jets.

Activists in South Korea marked the anniversary by floating 10 helium balloons filled with 200,000 leaflets over the border.

The leaflets denounced the launch of a rocket at the time the people are suffering famine.

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