North Korea rolls out missiles, other weaponry at parade

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks to journalists after meeting his French counterpart Jean Marc Ayrault in Beijing

"What analysts believe is that this is sending a message that Kim Jong-un maintains his dual track policy", Leeson said.

According to UPI, other soldiers have referred to him as a mentally ill patient.

The missiles were among one element of a massive, militaristic parade to mark the 1912 birthday of the regime's founder, Kim Il Sung.

A senior North Korean government official says the country is ready to stand up to any threat posed by the United States as he spoke at an enormous parade celebrating the birthday of the country's founder Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of current ruler Kim Jong Un.

The reclusive state has always been on a quest to develop a long-range missile capable of hitting the USA mainland with a nuclear warhead, and has so far staged five atomic tests, two of them a year ago.

The parade comes amid rising tensions between North Korea and the rest of the world, after a week-long series of spats directed toward the United States, and a looming possibility of the nation's sixth nuclear test.

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

Speculation that it could conduct a sixth blast in the coming days to coincide with the anniversary has reached fever pitch, with specialist USA website 38North describing its Punggye-ri test site as "primed and ready" and White House officials saying military options were "already being assessed".

A USA military official, who spoke on anonymity, said the US doesn't intend to use military force against North Korea in response to either a nuclear test or a missile launch.

But Choe Ryong Hae, reportedly the second-most powerful official in the country, said in a speech that Pyongyang is prepared for any threat posed by the United States.

Meanwhile, aides to Vice President Mike Pence, who was en route to South Korea and due to arrive in Seoul early Sunday, said he also had been briefed about the missile launch and was in contact with the president.

North Korea responded by warning of a "merciless retaliatory strike" if the USA acts first.

Last week, it emerged that a US Navy strike group has been sent into the Western Pacific, with Commander Dave Benham, spokesman at US Pacific Command, saying that it was a "prudent measure".

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

China, North Korea's sole major ally and neighbour, which nevertheless opposes its weapons programme, on Friday again called for talks to defuse the crisis.

The Associated Press furthers notes that in a statement Friday, North Korea's military drew parallels to past US actions against Iraq and Libya.

As Tokyo communicated its protest to Pyongyang through a diplomatic channel in Beijing, a Japanese government source said North Korea's "repeated provocative moves are unacceptable".

North Korea conducted two nuclear tests a year ago alone, advancing its goal to make nuclear weapons small enough to fit on long-range missiles.

In a New Year's speech on January 1, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said the country was in its "final stage" of test-firing an ICBM that could reach the US mainland.