North Korea has claimed that it is now capable enough to attach a nuclear warhead to a ballistic rocket. A news release from North Korea’s news agency was accompanied by pictures of Kim Jong-un standing behind a shining-spherical object what the country says is a small nuclear warhead designed for thermo-nuclear reaction. The picture has not been independently verified by experts and is not dated. According to the state news release, Kim said that the country’s real “enemy” was nuclear war and that the country was strengthening its nuclear deterrent to protect it from other nations. South Korea’s defence ministry said it didn’t believe the country had been able to successfully miniaturise its nuclear technology, Reuters reports.

The latest posturing from North Korea comes at a time when the country is raising global tensions by issuing escalating threats against other nations. In its latest statement the North said it would “never hesitate to make a pre-emptive nuclear strike” against the US if it infringed upon its “sovereignty and right to existence with nuclear weapons”.

Kim has called for his military to be prepared to mount pre-emptive attacks against the United States and South Korea and stand ready to use nuclear weapons, stepping up belligerent rhetoric after coming under new U.N. and bilateral sanctions last week for its nuclear and rocket tests.

U.S. and South Korean troops began large-scale military drills this week, which the North called “nuclear war moves” and threatened to respond with an all-out offensive.

Kim’s comments were his first direct mention of the claim, made repeatedly in state media, to have successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead, which has been widely questioned and never independently verified.

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