Kim Jong Un

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, Reuters reported on Sunday, citing state media KCNA.

Kim's remarks came as the isolated country conducted what KCNA called exercises “aimed at improving its tactical nuclear attack capabilities and war deterrence 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 before hitting a target at the altitude of 800 m under the scenario of a tactical nuclear attack, KCNA said.

South Korea and Japan reported a launch of a North Korean short-range ballistic missile off the east coast on Sunday, the latest in a series of missile tests in recent weeks.

The North has upped the volume of its ballistic missile tests in recent months. The country tested dozens of ballistic weapons in 2022, including its first intercontinental ballistic missiles since 2017.

Kim recently ordered the development of new intercontinental ballistic missiles and massive production of tactical nuclear weapons to counter threats from the United States and South Korea.

The North Korean leader said last November that his country's ultimate goal is to possess the world's most powerful nuclear force.