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, state media said on Friday.
The comments, carried by the North's official KCNA news agency, marked a further escalation of tension on the Korean peninsula after the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday imposed harsh new sanctions against the isolated state for its nuclear program.
Kim made the comments as he supervised military exercises involving newly developed rocket launchers, KCNA reported. It did not mention the date of the drills but said the new weapons had South Korea within range.
South Korea's defense ministry said on Thursday North Korea launched several projectiles off its coast into the sea up to 150 kilometers (90 miles) away, an apparent response to the U.N. sanctions.
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 defense always on standby so as to be fired 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 preemptive attack one in every aspect."
North Korea has previously threatened pre-emptive attacks on its enemies including South Korea, Japan and the United States. Military experts doubt it has yet developed the capability to fire a long-range missile with a miniaturized warhead to deliver a nuclear weapon as far as the United States.
"We urge North Korea to refrain from provocative actions that aggravate tensions and instead focus on fulfilling its international obligations and commitments," said Commander Bill Urban, a U.S. Defense Department spokesman, responding to the report.
A U.S.-based think tank said recent commercial satellite imagery showed new activity at North Korea's Sohae Satellite Launching Station that could be preparations for a rocket-engine test.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said that the country's "nuclear warheads need to be ready for use at any time," according to the country's state news agency.
"Under the extreme situation that the U.S. Imperialist is misusing its military influence and is pressuring other countries and people to start war and catastrophe, the only way for our people to protect sovereignty and rights to live is to strengthen the quality and quantity of nuclear power and realize the balance of power," KCNA quoted Kim as saying, according to CNN.
The state news report also said it had confirmed North Korea's launch of "short-range projectiles" a day earlier.
North Korea has tested long-range missiles and conducted nuclear tests in violation of international law, prompting the U.S. Congress and the United Nations Security Council to impose new international sanctions on North Korea.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the new launches North Korea's "latest stunt."
“North Korea’s rocket launch comes at the heels of the U.N. Security Council’s approval of its toughest sanctions against the regime in two decades, and that’s no coincidence,” he said in a statement.
"The Forgotten Maniac’s latest stunt is further evidence that our friends and allies around the world must join the United States in ratcheting up pressure to address North Korea’s aggression," said Gardner, who introduced a bill to sanction North Korea.
North Korea Orders Nuclear Weapons Made Ready for Use! China Says "North Korea has signed its own Death Warrant"
In a far more ominous and staggering development, China's Senior Representative to the "Six Party Talks" on settling issues involving North Korea, stated publicly "." In an interview with Maekyung Media Group Chairman Chang Dae-whan on Wednesday, Wu Dawei (right), 70, China`s senior representative at the six-party talks also said “China warned North Korea to give up nuclear weapons several times but the country refused to listen,” he added, stressing “This is why China supported the resolution of strong sanctions against North Korea adopted by the U.N. Security Council.”
China says things like this. China is ALWAYS moderate in its Diplomatic tone, and leaves a door open to compromise or face-saving, no matter who they are in difficulties with. For China to publicly use such language is no mistake. China doesn't make mistakes like that. Ever.
The Chinese top diplomat went on to say, “We visited Pyongyang from February 2 to February 4 to meet with three North Korean influential figures including Kim Kye-gwan, Senior Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, and they reaffirmed the country’s strong will to own nuclear weapons and conduct nuclear tests,” adding, “Back then, we delivered a message to give up nuclear weapons in a decisive tone but the country let it go through one ear and out the other ear.”
The Chinese diplomat said the two Koreas are equally important for China. “We considered the North a country with close tie ,” he said, adding, “We put importance on the strategic cooperation with South Korea, as well as traditional friendly relationship with North Korea.” He went on to say, “and we are also keeping our balance in treating Seoul and Pyongyang.”