All eyes are on the Trump administration's plans for North Korea, with concern growing since last week's USA missile strike in Syria, in response to a deadly gas attack.
The United States has warned that a policy of "strategic patience" with North Korea is over.
Earlier, as the USS aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and its strike group sailed towards the peninsula, North Korea's official KCNA news agency, citing a spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People's Army, warned of a "merciless" retaliation against any U.S. provocation.
It wanted to send "a tough message to the United States in response to the Trump administration's recent rhetoric and the military steps the United States has taken", said Evans Revere of the Brookings Institution in Washington.
"Trump is always making provocations with his aggressive words ..."
There's also anger in Pyongyang over the annual spring military exercises that the USA holds with South Korea.
"The military hysterics of the administration of the US President (Donald) Trump has reached a unsafe point, and the DPRK can not but react to this circumstance", the North Korean military leaders said in a statement issued on Friday.
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. The isolated country is now preparing a military parade in honor of 105th birthday of the country's founder Kim Il-Sung on Saturday.
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Kim did not address the rally himself on Saturday, instead waving and smiling as ecstatic crowds of flag- and flower-bearing civilians - men in suits, women in traditional hanbok dresses - filed past him behind the military display.
North Korea showed off what appeared to be three long-range missiles, at least one apparently new.
South Korean military officials said they believe the object was a new type of ICBM.
The parade also featured the North's submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) for the first time. (English - ) "I'm also sure that the missiles are not ready yet, but it doesn't matter".
"However, North Korea has a habit of showing off new concepts in parades before they ever test or launch them", Hanham said.
Other military hardware at the parade included tanks, multiple rocket launchers and artillery, as well as a solid-fuel missile created to be fired from submarines.
While the two missile canisters appeared to accommodate missiles larger than any the country has publicly displayed, they were empty but insinuated North Korea's intentions to build larger ICBMs.
Troop formations, missile displays, and armored vehicles rolled through the massive Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, as the country's current leader, Kim Jong Un, perched on the balcony and gave the occasional nod and salute to thousands of his subjects below.
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