Leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un has said his country's ultimate goal is to possess the world's most powerful strategic force.
Kim made the announcement as he promoted dozens of military officers involved in the recent launch of North Korea's largest ballistic missile, North Korean media reported on Sunday.
The announcement came after the North’s leader inspected a test of the country's new Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which flew some 1,000 kilometers before falling in waters in the East Sea, also known as Sea of Japan, and pledged to counter US nuclear threats with nuclear weapons on November 18.
During the inspection, Kim censured US’ joint exercises with Japan and South Korea as "hysteric aggression war drills."
He was also quoted by North Korea's official news agency, KCNA, as saying that if Washington continued to make threats against the North, Pyongyang “will resolutely react to nukes with nuclear weapons and to total confrontation with all-out confrontation.”
Building the nuclear force is for reliably protecting the dignity and sovereignty of the state and the people, and "its ultimate goal is to possess the world's most powerful strategic force, the absolute force unprecedented in the century," Kim said in the ceremony hold to promote the officers.
He called the Hwasong-17 the "world's strongest strategic weapon" and said it demonstrated North Korea's resolve and ability to eventually build the world's strongest army.
North Korean scientists have made a "wonderful leap forward in the development of the technology of mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles," Kim added, without elaborating.
Posing for photos with the scientists, engineers, military officials and others involved in the test, Kim said he expected them to continue to expand and strengthen the country's nuclear deterrent at an extraordinarily rapid pace.
The ICBM test came a day after North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile as Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui warned that Pyongyang would take "fiercer" military action if the US further enhanced its "extended" military aid to the regional allies.
Capable of reaching the US mainland, the missile launch prompted the United States to call for a United Nations Security Council presidential statement to hold North Korea accountable for its missile tests.
North Korea's Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly awarded the Hwasong-17 missile the title of "DPRK Hero and Gold Star Medal and Order of National Flag 1st Class," KCNA reported in another statement, using the initials of the country's official name, Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"(The missile) clearly proved before the world that the DPRK is a full-fledged nuclear power capable of standing against the nuclear supremacy of the US imperialists and fully demonstrated its might as the most powerful ICBM state," KCNA added.
The test fire demonstrated that North Korea will react in kind to "the enemy's nuke and full-frontal confrontation," the report said.