North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered his country's nuclear weapons made ready for use at a moment's notice, the AP reports. Kim also said his country will ready its military so it's prepared to carry out pre-emptive attacks, calling the current situation very precarious, according to the country's official state news agency. The threats in the statement are part of the authoritarian nation's regular propaganda effort to show strength in the face of what it sees as an effort by South Korea and the US to overthrow its leaders; it follows harsh UN sanctions over the North's recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch and comes ahead of joint US-South Korean war games this month that the North claims are invasion preparations.
North Korea has threatened nuclear war in the past, but it's unclear just how advanced the country's nuclear program really is. Pyongyang is thought to have a handful of crude atomic bombs, but there is considerable outside debate about whether it is technologically able to shrink a warhead and mount it on a missile. "The only way for defending the sovereignty of our nation and its right to existence under the present extreme situation is to bolster up nuclear force both in quality and quantity," the North's dispatch Thursday said, paraphrasing Kim Jong Un. It said that Kim stressed "the need to get the nuclear warheads deployed for national defense always on standby so as to be fired any moment." (Read more North Korea stories.)