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North Korea: Expanding nuclear arsenal aimed at defending country, regional peace

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un

The North Korean leader says Pyongyang's policy of expanding its nuclear arsenal is solely aimed at defending the country as well as regional peace and stability.

Kim Jong Un was quoted by the North's official KCNA news agency as making the remark on Tuesday, while inspecting the country's nuclear weapons program and examining nuclear counterattack operation plans.

During the visit, He was briefed on an IT-based integrated nuclear weapon management system called Haekbangashoe. The name means "nuclear trigger," and as reported by North Korea's official news agency, its accuracy, reliability and security were verified during recent drills simulating a nuclear counterattack.

Kim also ordered the production of weapons-grade materials in a "far-sighted way," which he said would boost the country's nuclear arsenal "exponentially"
and produce powerful weapons.

The North Korean leader said Pyongyang's policy of expanding its nuclear arsenal is solely aimed at defending the country as well as regional peace and stability, adding that when the North has "flawlessly" prepared its nuclear weapons systems, then "the enemy would fear us and not dare provoke our state sovereignty, system and people."

​The North Korean head of state, who was briefed by officials from the nuclear weapons institute, also said the country should be prepared to use its nuclear arms "anytime and anywhere."

The remarks came amid ongoing joint military drills by the United States and South Korea and ahead of a US Navy carrier strike group's scheduled arrival in the South.

Seoul and Washington concluded their regular springtime exercises, called Freedom Shield 23, last week, but are now conducting amphibious landing drills involving a US amphibious assault ship.

On Friday, Pyongyang said the joint drills were a practice for "occupying" North Korea, with Kim calling for "stronger war deterrence," including "more developed, multi-faceted and offensive nuclear attack capability."

Also on Friday, North Korea said it had tested an underwater nuclear attack drone capable of inflicting substantial damage on enemy ports and vessels.

North Korea, which declared itself an "irreversible" nuclear power last year, is also seeking to diversify delivery mechanisms for its nuclear weapons.

The North's military conducted a firing drill on Monday, simulating a nuclear attack using tactical ballistic missiles.

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