2017 image from North Korea peddled as Iran preparing to attack Israel

By: Azra Ali
April 8 2024

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2017 image from North Korea peddled as Iran preparing to attack Israel

Screenshot of a viral posts. (Source: X)


The Verdict False

The viral image is from North Korea’s 85th Army Founding Day celebrations held on March 25, 2017.

Claim ID a28d1abb

What is the claim?

A photo showing tanks and artillery lined up along a coast is going viral on social media, claiming that it shows Iran preparing to attack Israel. The claim has surfaced amid escalating tensions between Iran and Israel after the Iranian consulate in Syria was allegedly attacked by Israel on April 1. One social media user shared the photo on X (formerly Twitter) with the caption, “Iran is ready to retaliate. #WWIII.” The post garnered over 16,000 views at the time of writing. Archive versions of such claims, some of which are quite alarmist, can be found here, here, and here.

 Screenshot of the viral posts.(Source: X)

However, the viral photo is from North Korea’s 85th Army Founding Day celebrations held in 2017.

How did we verify this? 

A reverse-image search of the viral image led us to a CNN report dated April 25, 2017, titled ‘North Korea marks anniversary with massive artillery drill.’ The report carried the same viral picture. The image caption stated that live-fire drills were held in North Korea to mark the 85th anniversary of its Army Founding Day. The image was credited to “Rodong Sinmun/North Korean Govt.” Rodong Sinmun is the official newspaper of North Korea’s ruling party, the Workers’ Party of Korea.

We also found the same image in a 2018 report by the South Korea-based daily called EDaily News. The photo was captioned in Korean and roughly translated to: “On April 25 last year, the 85th anniversary of the founding of the People's Army, the North Korean military held the largest joint strike demonstration in military history with Kim Jong-un in attendance.” The image was credited to Yonhap News, a South Korea-based news agency. We located the original report on Yonhap, which in turn, credited the image to Rodong Sinmun.

We also found a Voice of America (VOA) Korea report dated April 26, 2017, elaborating details from the 85th anniversary celebrations. This report had similar images of the artillery setup, albeit from a different angle. 

The evidence above indicates that the now-viral image is from North Korea, not Iran.

Escalating tensions between Iran and Israel 

On April 1, Iran accused Israel of attacking its consulate in Damascus, Syria; in air strikes that killed two top Iranian military advisers and civilians, reported Al Jazeera. The report stated Iran ‘promised a response’ after the incident. A ccording to a Reuters report Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said that “Israel is prepared for any Iran scenario” after an Iranian official said that “Israeli embassies are not safe anymore” in connection with the Syria consulate attack.

The verdict 

The viral photo shows an artillery drill held in North Korea on March 25, 2017, as part of the country’s 85th Army Founding Day celebrations. It does not show Iran preparing to attack Israel. Therefore, we have marked the claim as false.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before