North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for the country to stand ready to conduct nuclear attacks at any time to deter war, accusing the US and South Korea of expanding joint military drills involving American nuclear assets, state media KCNA said on Monday.
Kim's remarks came as the isolated country conducted what KCNA called exercises aimed at bolstering its "war deterrence and nuclear counterattack capability" on Saturday and Sunday to send strong warnings against the allies.
In the exercises, a ballistic missile equipped with a mock nuclear warhead flew 800 km (497 miles) before hitting a target at the altitude of 800 m (0.5 mile) under the scenario of a tactical nuclear attack, KCNA said.
Kim, who oversaw the test, said the exercises improved the military's actual war capability and highlighted the need to ensure its readiness posture for any "immediate and overwhelming nuclear counterattack" through such drills.
"The present situation, in which the enemies are getting ever more pronounced in their moves for aggression against the DPRK, urgently requires the DPRK to bolster up its nuclear war deterrence exponentially," KCNA quoted him as saying.
Kim was using the acronym of his country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"The nuclear force of the DPRK will strongly deter, control and manage the enemy's reckless moves and provocations with its high war readiness, and carry out its important mission without hesitation in case of any unwanted situation," he added.
KCNA photos showed Kim attended the test, again with his young daughter, and senior officials as flames roar from the soaring missile before it hit the target.
The North so far in 2023 has fired around 20 missiles over nine different launch events. They included short-range missiles fired from land, cruise missiles launched from a submarine, and two different intercontinental ballistic missiles fired an airport near Pyongyang as it tries to demonstrate a dual ability to conduct nuclear attacks on South Korea and the US mainland.
The latest ICBM test last Thursday preceded a summit between South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who agreed to resume security dialogues and take other steps to improve their oft-strained relations in the face of North Korean threats.