North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly ordered the country’s military to prepare to conduct a nuclear warhead explosion test and multiple ballistic missile launches “in a short time.”
The official North Korean KCNA news agency said on Tuesday that the order by Kim came after he supervised a successful simulated test of the atmospheric re-entry of a ballistic missile.
The news agency added that the preparation aimed to “further enhance the reliance of nuclear attack capability.”
“He (Kim) instructed the relevant section to make prearrangement for them to the last detail,” it said.
It also released photos of Kim observing a dome-shaped object placed under what appeared to be a rocket engine, described by the KCNA as being a warhead tip.
The announcement by Pyongyang is the latest in a series of similar remarks and warnings made on a nearly daily basis since the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) imposed the harshest US-designed sanctions on North Korea, including bans on exports, earlier this month.
Following the Tuesday announcement by KCNA, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said it had not detected any evidence that Pyongyang had acquired missile re-entry technology or the ability to guide the rocket after it re-enters the atmosphere.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye also warned that Pyongyang would lead itself to self-destruction if it failed to change its path and if it continued to act in defiance of the international community.
Last week, Kim said his country had successfully miniaturized nuclear warheads so they can be used on ballistic missiles.
Relations between North and South Korea have been turbulent for years. Seoul and Pyongyang fought a war in the early 1950s, and have been at odds ever since.
Tensions have escalated further recently following Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test in January and the start of joint military exercises by Washington and Seoul.
The US says Pyongyang is after developing long-range missiles that can carry nuclear warheads and can reach the US, while North Korea says its adversaries, including the US, seek to bring the regime in Pyongyang down, and it is thus strengthening itself against hostile countries.
North Korea has already been targeted with international sanctions over its nuclear and missile activities.