Image courtesy AFP / Ed JONES

Nuclear-armed North Korea on Sunday celebrated its 70th birthday as thousands of troops followed by artillery and tanks paraded without displaying the intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The country was proclaimed on 9 September, 1948, three years after Russia and the United States divided the peninsula between them in the closing days of the Second World War.

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Pyongyang has for years demonstrated progress in its quest for a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the United States.

But during Sunday’s parade, leader Kim Jong Un chose to show off his friendship with China by raising the hand of President Xi Jinping’s envoy as they saluted the crowd together afterwards.

The North has since paused its provocation of the west after Kim’s Singapore meeting with US President Donald Trump in June.

After a 21-gun salute, dozens of infantry units marched through Kim Il Sung Square, some in night-vision goggles or wielding rocket-propelled grenade launchers, as the current leader, the founder’s grandson, looked on from a rostrum.