"Although his reckless remarks are just balderdash of a guy who has become so angrily desperate due to the ever-increasing nuclear strike capability of the DPRK, they have gone over the line," said a spokesman for the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as quoted by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
KCNA quoted the regime's ministry official as a stating: "It has now become clear that the ultimate aim of the Trump administration's hostile policy towards the DPRK is the 'regime change' in the DPRK. Should the U.S. dare to show even the slightest sign of attempt to remove our supreme leadership, we will strike a merciless blow at the heart of the U.S. with our powerful nuclear hammer, honed and hardened over time."
The latest round of harsh comments from North Korea come amid reports the regime is about to set off another ballistic missile test, perhaps timed to the country's Victory Day anniversary on July 27.
South Korean news agency Yonhap reported Tuesday South Korean defense officials were on the lookout for a possible missile test-firing by the secretive regime.
"Our military is closely monitoring (North Korea's move) through the integrated operation of South Korea-U.S. combined surveillance assets against the possibility of North Korea's provocations," a spokesman for the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff was quoted as saying, according to Yonhap.
On July 4, North Korea fired its first intercontinental ballistic missile, increasing tensions on the Korean Peninsula and raising the alarm of U.S. officials. The North already is believed to have ballistic missiles capable of reaching all of South Korea, Japan, Guam as well as Alaska.
The ICBM test-firing this month raised concerns Pyongyang also has range to reach Hawaii as well as the mainland U.S. However, it's still not entirely clear if North Korea is capable today of having an ICBM with a nuclear warhead survive extreme heat as it reenters Earth's atmosphere.
Nonetheless, U.S. military officials have indicated they are operating under the assumption North Korea has the capability of the ICBM to reach the U.S. mainland. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that a Pentagon agency assessment concluded the North will be able to have a "reliable, nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile as early as next year."
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency confirmed this week it plans to conduct a new experimental test of the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) anti-missile defense system. The test is expected to be conducted from the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Alaska.
The missile agency declined to provide further details in advance, citing "the need to safeguard critical defense information."
That said, the U.S. Coast Guard issued a notice to mariners of the imminent launch, suggesting it would likely take place Saturday evening but added that alternative launch times were Sunday and Monday.