North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has again threatened to use nuclear weapons if the US and South Korea continue to show "open hostility" toward Pyongyang, state-run media said on Friday.
"We will continue to make the U.S. and South Korea, which show open hostility towards the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and frequently stage large-scale military drills in and around the Korean peninsula, find themselves being reckless," Kim said while witnessing the launch of a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Thursday, according to the Central Korean News Agency.
Kim issued a strong warning to the US and South Korea for their ongoing joint military drills, saying North Korea can respond to nuclear weapons with nukes and instructed his strategic forces to maintain a rapid response posture to deal with any armed conflict or war.
"The nuclear strategic forces of the DPRK will make perfect preparations for carrying out their important mission anytime," he added.
According to state-run media, North Korea's leader "guided" the launch by the country's ICBM unit of the army.
"The ICBM Hwasongpho-17, launched at the Pyongyang International Airport, traveled up to a maximum altitude of 6 045km and flew a distance of 1 000.2 km for 4 151s before accurately landing on the preset area in the open waters off the East Sea of Korea," it said.
The missile was launched on Thursday, just hours before South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol left for Tokyo, the first head of state to visit Japan since 2011.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have risen further since the US and South Korea began their Freedom Shield military exercises on Monday, which will last at least 10 days.
"The launching drill of the strategic weapon serves as an occasion to give a stronger warning to the enemies intentionally (is) escalating the tension in the Korean peninsula while persistently resorting to irresponsible and reckless military threats in defiance of the DPRK's severe warning," the news agency stated.
Kim warned his "enemies" that continuing military actions against his country would result in an irreversible, grave threat to them.
Source: Anadolu Agency