North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the country has miniaturized nuclear warheads to be mounted on ballistic missiles and ordered improvements in the power and precision of its arsenal, its state media reported on Wednesday.
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.
U.S. and South Korean troops began large-scale military drills this week, which the North calls "nuclear war moves" and threatened to respond with an all-out offensive.
Kim's comments released on Wednesday were his first direct mention of the claim, previously made repeatedly in state media, to have successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead to be mounted on a ballistic missile, which is widely questioned.
"The nuclear warheads have been standardized to be fit for ballistic missiles by miniaturizing them," KCNA quoted him as saying as he inspected the work of nuclear workers, adding "this can be called true nuclear deterrent."