North Korean leader orders military to get ready to use nuclear bombs
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un ordered his country to be ready to use its nuclear weapons at any time and to turn its military posture to "pre-emptive attack" mode in the face of growing threats from its enemies, official media said last night.
The comments, carried by the official KCNA news agency, marked a further escalation of tension on the Korean peninsula after the UN Security Council imposed harsh new sanctions against the isolated state for its nuclear programme.
Kim made the comments as he supervised the exercise of newly developed multiple rocket launchers, KCNA reported.
It did not mention the date of the drills but said the new weapons had South Korea within range.
Kim said North Korea should "bolster up (its) nuclear force both in quality and quantity" and stressed "the need to get the nuclear warheads deployed for national defence always on standby so as to be fired at any moment".
KCNA quoted him as saying: "Now is the time for us to convert our mode of military counteraction toward the enemies into an pre-emptive attack one in every aspect."
The US defence department said that Pyongyang should "refrain from provocative actions that aggravate tensions".
"We are aware of the reports, and are closely monitoring the situation on the Korean Peninsula in co-ordination with our regional allies," said Commander Bill Urban, a Pentagon spokesman.
"We urge North Korea to refrain from provocative actions that aggravate tensions and instead focus on fulfilling its international obligations and commitments."
North Korea has previously threatened pre-emptive attacks on its enemies including South Korea, Japan and the United States.
Military experts doubt it has developed the capability to fire a long-range missile with a miniaturised warhead to deliver a nuclear weapon as far as the United States yet.
North Korea yesterday launched several projectiles off its coast into the sea that flew up to 150km, South Korea's defence ministry said, an apparent response to new sanctions imposed by the United Nations this week. The missiles, all of which fell into the sea, were fired from Wonsan in eastern North Korea.
The UN Security Council passed a unanimous resolution on Wednesday dramatically expanding sanctions on North Korea following its fourth nuclear test on January 6 and a long-range rocket launch on February 7.
The sanctions include a ban on any items except food or medicine which may be used for military purposes.
It also clamps down on the pampered lives of leader Kim Jong-Un and his ruling elite, extending a luxury goods ban to include watches made of precious metals and leisure sports equipment.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye yesterday repeated a stern warning against the North to abandon its nuclear ambitions and said it would work to "end tyranny" by the North's leader.