The threat was issued at the conclusion of the meeting of the Central Military Commission on Sunday, which was attended by the country’s leader Kim Jong un. North Korea’s official news agency, KCNA, said the discussions had centred on “putting the strategic armed forces on a high alert operation” in line with the “building and development of the armed forces of the country”. Experts predicted that Kim was sending a clear message to the US President that he could initiate a nuclear attack at short notice.
Cho Dong-joon, a professor of Political Science and International Relations at Seoul National University, explained: “It is the first time for North Korea to use the term “high alert operation” to describe nuclear forces.
“This refers to state where nuclear weapons can be used in a very short period of time.”
Mr Dong-joon’s thoughts were echoed by a senior researcher at the Korea Research Institute for Military Affairs.
Ryu Sung-yeob said: “It means that North Korea is able to immediately launch a nuclear attack anywhere in Northeast Asia, stressing that it owns leadership for nuclear deterrent.”
The development is likely to come as a major blow to Donald Trump, who has tried to persuade the north Korean dictator to abandon his nuclear weapons programme.
The US President has met three times with the Supreme Leader, once in Singapore, Hanoi and in the demilitarised zone between the two Korea’s.
The talks are currently deadlocked, after neither side appeared ready to compromise on their respective agendas.
Mr Trump is insisting that the North Koreans abandon not only their nuclear programme but also their chemical and biological weapons.
“It is entirely up to the US what Christmas gift it will select to get.”
Kim’s participation at Sunday’s meting put an end to intense speculation about his health.
These were initially triggered after he missed the annual celebration of his grandfather’s birthday on April 15.
This is one of the biggest in the country’s calendar, marking the birth of the nation’s founder and from which the North Korean leader has never before been absent.
Thereafter, the North Korean dictator went missing for almost three weeks, before state television showed him opening a fertilizer plant in Sunchon at the end of April.
Kim disappeared again from view shortly after the factory visit, once again prompting talk of his demise, before attending the military meeting.
Earlier this month, new intelligence reports indicated that Kim was racing to construct a giant storage and assembly area for his lethal nuclear ballistic missiles.
The new base is being constructed on the site of an abandoned underground storage area, that was built in the 1980s to shelter and protect fighter planes.
It is located close to Pyongyang’s main airport and its underground storage areas and buildings are big enough to house the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).