North Korea has warned that it may carry out further nuclear tests and says it is prepared to launch a preemptive strike on the United States if U.S. nuclear forces mobilize against it.
"The U.S. has nuclear weapons off our coast, targeting our country, our capital and our Dear Leader, Kim Jong Un," a top North Korean official, Lee Yong Pil, said in an exclusive interview with NBC News.
"We will not step back as long as there's a nuclear threat to us from the United States," added Lee, who is director of the Foreign Ministry's Institute for American Studies.
"A preemptive nuclear strike is not something the U.S. has a monopoly on," he said. "If we see that the U.S. would do it to us, we would do it first. ... We have the technology."
Such threats have been a staple of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un since he took power after his father's death in 2011. U.S. officials do not believe Pyongyang possesses weapons able to reach the continental United States.
Lee also warned that North Korea may carry out "a sixth, a seventh or an eighth" nuclear test.