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Kim Jong-un pictured with daughter for first time as family watch missile launch

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been seen holding hands with his daughter as they were pictured for the first time in public at the launching of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

It was the second major weapons test this month and Kim said the launch confirmed North Korea has another "reliable and maximum capacity" missile, as he warned the United States and its allies that their alleged provocative steps would lead to "their self-destruction," state media reported.

Kim oversaw the firing of the Hwasong-17 missile with North Korea's neighbours saying they had detected the launch of an ICBM potentially capable of reaching the continental US.

Surprisingly Kim was pictured with his daughter who is rumoured to be called Ju Ae and could be around 12- or 13-years-old.

Propaganda photos show the girl holding Kim's hand and accompanying him and his wife, Ri Sol-ju, to the rocket launch.

Some foreign experts said the Hwasong-17 missile is still under development but is the North's longest-range ballistic weapon designed to carry multiple nuclear warheads to defeat US missile defence systems.

The latest launch is part of a flurry of missile tests that are seen as an attempt to expand its weapons arsenal and boost its leverage in future diplomacy.

Michael Madden, an expert on the North Korean elite, is sure that the pictured girl is Kim's daughter and that the leader was making a statement with the image.

He said: "It is implicit in the photos that this is his daughter. There is no chance in hell he is tooling around a WMD site with random girl."

Kim Jong-un is pictured with his daughter at a missile launch (Credit: Pen News)

Mr Madden, a fellow of The Stimson Center in Washington, said Kim was sending a message with the photos.

"The nuclear weapons programme and Kim Jong-un's accomplishments around them is a family legacy for whomever his successor is," he continued.

"So, what we are seeing, is Kim telecasting that fourth-generation hereditary succession is highly likely to happen. This is intended to communicate it to the wider North Korean elite as well as to foreign governments."

He also feels that there could be a conflict brewing among the country's ruling class, perhaps involving plans for a change of leader.

Kim oversaw the firing of the Hwasong-17 missile (Credit: Pen News)

"So an event like this is intended to stop those plans in their tracks," he said. "And I would posit that bringing out the daughter would be the final phase of that effort."

The analyst also highlighted that Kim Jong-un's father and predecessor, Kim Jong-il, had brought the next generation of his family to public events too.

"But the images and reporting did not occur contemporaneously," he said. "It represents a degree of comfort on Kim Jong-un's part to bring his daughter to an event and have her photograph appear in real time in North Korean state media."

The new images follow speculation in September that a child who was recorded performing for Kim at the country's National Day celebrations was Ju-ae.

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