N.Korea's Kim says nuclear deterrent is ready

STORY: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un says his country is ready to mobilize its nuclear war deterrent - and counter any U.S. military clash.

"Our armed forces are thoroughly prepared to respond to any crisis, and our state's nuclear war deterrence is also fully ready to mobilize its absolute strength faithfully, accurately and promptly to its mission."

Kim's remarks came during a speech marking the 69th anniversary of the July 27 Korean War armistice, which left the two Koreas technically still at war, according to KCNA news agency on Thursday (July 28).

He also criticized South Korea's new president for the first time, warning Seoul was pushing towards the brink of war.

"If you think you can neutralize or destroy part of our military power, it's nonsense! Such a dangerous attempt will immediately be punished by a powerful force, and Yoon Suk-yeol's government and his army will be annihilated."

Yoon's office said South Korea is capable of "strongly and effectively" responding to provocations at any time.

Here's presidential office spokesperson, Kang In-sun.

"We express deep regret that Chairman Kim Jong Un made threatening remarks at our government while mentioning the president by name during a speech at an event marking the war armistice's anniversary."

Kim claimed the threat the U.S. has posed to the North since the 1950-53 war required it to achieve an "urgent historical task" of beefing up its self defence.

In-Sun reiterated the South's wish that North Korea would, quote, "take the path of dialogue to achieve substantive denuclearization and peace."

Kim's speech came after Seoul and Washington officials said Pyongyang has completed preparations to conduct its first nuclear test since 2017.

The South Korean minister handling inter-Korean affairs said on Tuesday there was a "possibility" of the test around the anniversary of the armistice.

Though a military official said there were no immediate signs for it.

South Korea's foreign minister said on Wednesday that the North will likely face stronger sanctions if the test goes ahead.

In Wednesday's speech, Kim said Washington continues what it calls "dangerous, illegal hostile acts" against the North - and seeks to justify its behavior by "demonizing" the country.

The North has long accused the United States of double standards over military activities and 'hostile' policy towards Pyongyang.

It claims the U.S. is hampering a restart of talks, aimed at dismantling the country's nuclear and missile programs in return for sanctions relief.

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