North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has said his military is capable of striking South Korea with nuclear weapons. The Pyongyang military is "completely ready to hit and destroy targets at any time from any location," Kim said.
Kim ratcheted up tensions in the region with his aggressive nuclear posturing days after Pyongyang launched a flurry of missiles, some flying over Japanese territory.
The reclusive North Korean leader, who uses military events to shore up his profile, personally 'guided exercises by the country's nuclear tactical operation units', official news agency KCNA said. The ballistic missiles carried mock nuclear warheads, KCNA added.
Nuclear Combat Capability
"The effectiveness and practical combat capability of our nuclear combat force were fully demonstrated as it stands completely ready to hit and destroy targets at any time from any location .... Even though the enemy continues to talk about dialogue and negotiations, we do not have anything to talk about nor do we feel the need to do so," Kim said.
The agency also said the missile launches were in response to the recent joint military drills by South Korean and the US. While Washington and Seoul say the drills are part of regular exercises, Pyongyang sees them as a rehearsal for invasion. North Korea staged drills from 25 September to 9 October "to check and assess the war deterrent and nuclear counterattack capability of the country," KCNA stressed.
Last Week's Provocation
Pyongyang's intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) Hwasong-12 missiles flew over Japan last week, triggering panic and forcing Tokyo to issue an alert to its citizens. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile was launched from North Korea's Jagang Province.
The ballistic missile passed over Japan and landed in the Pacific ocean after travelling 4,500 km. In more symbolic importance, the missile traveled long enough to have landed on the US island of Guam if it had taken a different trajectory. Kim had time and again warned Washington that his country was capable of hitting a US target.
Tactical Nuclear Weapon
Kim had said last month that North Korea's transformation into a nuclear power was irreversible. Analysts and geopolitical experts believe North Korea is close to achieving tactical nuclear weapons and that its plan is to nuclearise many of its new short-range missiles.
"They're pursuing a tactical nuclear weapon for sure ... I suspect they'll gradually nuclearise many of their new short-range missiles, including the manoeuvring missiles," Ankit Panda, US-based security analyst, said, according to the Guardian.
Earlier in July, Kim threatened the United States and South Korea with a nuclear strike."Our armed forces are thoroughly prepared to respond to any crisis, and our nation's nuclear war deterrence is also fully ready to mobilise its absolute strength faithfully, accurately and promptly to its mission," Kim said, spicing up Pyongyang's 'Victory Day' celebrations.