SEOUL, March 3 (UPI) -- Kim Jong Un has ordered his military to be ready to use nuclear weapons at a moment's notice, two days after the adoption of a tough sanctions resolution at the United Nations Security Council, and days away from a large-scale joint military exercise involving U.S. and South Korean troops.
Kim provided the instructions while reportedly giving field guidance during the test-firing of artillery. According to Pyongyang's state-controlled newspaper Rodong Sinmun, Kim said, "For the sake of national defense, nuclear warheads should be prepared to launch at any time."
"Our enemies, given our military response system, will adopt an aggressive posture," Kim said.
The North Korean leader also said the "U.S. imperialists are throwing their weight around on other countries, pressuring them into war and disasters."
"In this situation, we are merely achieving a balance of power with our nuclear power, in order to preserve our people's sovereignty," Kim said.
The Pentagon and the U.S. State Department have stated they are keeping track of North Korea developments, and Gabrielle Price, the spokeswoman for the State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, urged "North Korea to refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric that aggravate tensions and instead focus on fulfilling its international obligations and commitments."
There is some debate about North Korea's claims, and whether Pyongyang is capable or miniaturizing the nuclear weapons in its arsenal.
Bruce Klingner, an analyst at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., said Pyongyang could have as many as 16 nuclear weapons, but added it was unclear whether they are small enough to be placed on missiles, USA Today reported.
Another analyst, Philip Yun, executive director of the Ploughshares Fund, a group that is working toward nuclear disarmament, said that the North's statement is "a lot of bluster," CNN reported.
"For them to deliver on a threat, they have to have intent and they have to have capability. And quite frankly, I don't think they have both," Yun said.