North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered his country to be ready to use its nuclear weapons at any point of time and to turn its military posture to "pre-emptive attack" mode in the face of growing threats from its enemies, according to state media.
Previously, North Korea threatened pre-emptive attacks on its enemies, including the US and South Korea. Military experts doubt it has yet developed the capability to fire a long-range missile with a miniaturized warhead to attack as far as the US.
North Korea's official KCNA news agency reported Kim made the comments as he supervised military exercises involving newly developed rocket launchers. However, it did not mention the date of the drills but said the new weapons had South Korea within range.
On Thursday, South Korea's defence ministry said North Korea launched several projectiles off its coast into the sea up to 90 miles away, an apparent response to the U.N. sanctions.
According to KCNA, Kim criticized South Korean President Park Geun-hye by her name for acting "in league with the U.S. scoundrels," adding, "her hysteria will precipitate only her ruin in the long run."
The U.N. sanctions, drafted by the US and China, punish North Korea following its fourth nuclear test, in January, and last month's satellite launch, which the US and others say was a test of ballistic missile technology.
On Friday, the US and South Korea militaries are set to officially begin talks on deployment of the advanced anti-missile Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system with the U.S. military in the South.
Johns Hopkins University's 38 North Project, which monitors North Korea, said recent commercial satellite imagery demonstrated new activity in North Korea including a convoy of trucks at its satellite launch station that could be preparations for a rocket-engine test.