Kim has called for his military to be prepared to mount
pre-emptive attacks against the United States and South Korea and
stand ready to use nuclear weapons, stepping up belligerent rhetoric
after coming under new U.N. and bilateral sanctions for its nuclear
and rocket tests.
U.S. and South Korean troops began large-scale military drills this
week, which the North called "nuclear war moves" and threatened to
respond with an all-out offensive.
Kim's comments, released on Wednesday, were his first direct mention
of the claim, made repeatedly in state media, to have successfully
miniaturized a nuclear warhead, which has been widely questioned and
never independently verified.
"The nuclear warheads have been standardized to be fit for ballistic
missiles by miniaturizing them," KCNA quoted Kim as saying as he
inspected the work of nuclear scientists, adding "this can be called
a true nuclear deterrent".
"He stressed the importance of building ever more powerful,
precision and miniaturized nuclear weapons and their delivery
means," KCNA said.
Kim also inspected the nuclear warhead designed for thermo-nuclear
reaction, KCNA said, referring to a miniaturized hydrogen bomb that
the country said it tested on Jan. 6.
Rodong Sinmun, official daily of the North's ruling party, carried
pictures of Kim in what seemed to be a large hangar speaking to
aides standing in front of a silver spherical object.
They also showed a large object similar to the KN-08
intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) previously put on display
at military parades, with Kim holding a half-smoked cigarette in one
of the images.
South Korea's defense ministry said after the release of the images
that it did not believe the North has successfully miniaturized a
nuclear warhead or deployed a functioning ICBM.
That assessment is in line with the views of South Korean and U.S.
officials that the North has likely made some advances in trying to
put a nuclear warhead on a missile, but that there is no proof it
has mastered the technology.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, speaking by telephone to U.S.
Secretary of State John Kerry, described the situation on the Korean
peninsula as "very tense" and called for all parties be remain calm
and exercise restraint, China's foreign ministry said.
[to top of second column]
North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 claiming to
have set off a miniaturized hydrogen bomb, which was disputed by
many experts and the governments of South Korea and the United
States. The blast detected from the test was simply too small to
back up the claim, experts said at the time.
The U.N. Security Council imposed harsh new sanctions on the
isolated state last week for the nuclear test. It launched a
long-range rocket in February drawing international criticism and
sanctions from its rival, South Korea.
South Korea on Tuesday announced further measures aimed at isolating
the North by blacklisting individuals and entities that it said were
linked to Pyongyang's weapons program.
China also stepped up pressure on the North by barring one of the 31
ships on its transport ministry's blacklist.
But a U.N. panel set up to monitor sanctions under an earlier
Security Council resolution adopted in 2009 said in a report
released on Tuesday that it had "serious questions about the
efficacy of the current U.N. sanctions regime."
North Korea has been "effective in evading sanctions" by continuing
to engage in banned trade, "facilitated by the low level of
implementation of Security Council resolutions by Member States,"
the Panel of Experts said.
"The reasons are diverse, but include lack of political will,
inadequate enabling legislation, lack of understanding of the
resolutions and low prioritization," it said.
(Additional reporting by Ju-min Park and James Pearson in Seoul and
Jessica Macy Yu in Beijing; Editing by Michael Perry and Nick
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