SEOUL - Tanks rumbled through downtown Seoul on Tuesday, as South Korea staged its largest military display in a decade and paraded a missile capable of high-precision strikes anywhere in North Korea.
President Park Geun-Hye warned of the "very grave" threat posed by Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme as the two-part display began at an airbase south of the capital in the morning.
Some 11,000 troops and 120 aircraft took part in the event, which showcased the military's most advanced weaponry as US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel looked on.
Hagel was on a visit to underscore US commitment to its military alliance with South Korea where 28,500 US troops are currently stationed.
"The situation on the Korean peninsula... is very grave," Park warned in her speech at the event marking the 65th anniversary of the founding of South Korea's armed forces.
"North Korea adamantly continues to develop and upgrade its nuclear weapons," Park said, adding that the South had no option but to boost its military deterrent in response.
She specifically cited the development of sophisticated missile interceptor systems capable of neutralising a North Korean strike.
"I believe that the true purpose of the military lies not in fighting a war but preventing one," she said.
The defence ministry said Tuesday's display was the largest since 2003.