Kim Jong Un

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said Pyongyang would not hesitate to respond with a nuclear attack when an enemy provokes it with nuclear weapons, Reuters reported, citing North Korea’s official news agency KCNA.

According to the report, Kim made the remark as he met with soldiers during a recent launching drill of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Kim’s comments come days after North Korea twice fired ballistic missiles into the sea off the coast of South Korea.

Observers said the North’s back-to-back launches were likely a protest against the moves by South Korea and the United States to bolster their nuclear deterrence plans.

North Korea tested dozens of ballistic weapons in 2022, including its first intercontinental ballistic missiles since 2017.

In July, North Korea test-fired a Hwasong-18 solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), in a launch that was supervised by Kim.

In September, North Korea announced it had built a "tactical nuclear attack submarine" as part of its effort to strengthen its naval force.

That announcement came days after the country said it staged a "simulated tactical nuclear attack" drill with mock atomic warheads attached to two long-range cruise missiles that were test-fired into the ocean.