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North Korean leader's first public speech

PYONGYANG, North Korea -- The new leader addressed his nation and the world for the first time yesterday, vowing to place top priority on his impoverished country's military, which promptly unveiled a new long-range missile.

Kim Jong Un's speech was the culmination of two weeks of celebrations marking the centenary of the birth of his grandfather, national founder Kim Il Sung -- festivities that were marred by a failed launch Friday of a rocket that generated international condemnation and cost North Korea a food aid-for-nuclear-freeze deal with Washington.

The speech took the thousands in Kim Il Sung Square and around televisions across the country by surprise. His father, the late leader Kim Jong Il, addressed the public only once in his lifetime.

Appearing calm and measured as he read a 20-minute speech, Kim Jong Un covered a wide range of topics, from foreign policy to the economy. His speech, and a military parade that followed, capped the carefully choreographed festivities commemorating Kim Il Sung's birthday, which included a massive fireworks display.

It was the best look yet the outside world has had of the young Kim, who is believed to be in his late 20s.

Punctuating his message that the North will continue to pour funds into its military, the parade unveiled a new long-range missile, though it's not clear how significant the addition to the arsenal is. Some analysts suggested it might have been a dummy designed to dupe outside observers.

"Superiority in military technology is no longer monopolized by imperialists, and the era of enemies using atomic bombs to threaten and blackmail us is forever over," Kim said.

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