North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said on Sunday his country was close to performing a test launch on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

ICBMs, though not specifically nuclear, are usually used to deliver nuclear weapons. Using such a missile to deliver regular weapons is not usually done, since it is considered to be a waste of money.

During a televised New Year's Day speech, Kim said, "We are in the final stages of test-launching the intercontinental ballistic missile... Research and development of cutting edge arms equipment is actively progressing and ICBM rocket test launch preparation is in its last stage.

"We have seen marvelous feats for bolstering our military power including the fact that our preparations for test-launching an intercontinental ballistic missile is in the final stages," he emphasized.

Kim also said Pyongyang is "a military power of the East that cannot be touched by even the strongest enemy."

North Korea carried out two nuclear tests in 2016, and has been under sanctions since 2006, and the UN voted to impose new sanctions on the country in November.

North Korea has warned the US that any missile defense shield over South Korea will be nuked.

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