SEOUL, March 14 (UPI) -- North Korea's Kim Jong Un instructed the military to test a nuclear warhead and launch additional rockets – in what appeared to be a precursory announcement prior to a fifth nuclear test.
Kim said that in order to "raise the truthfulness of our nuclear strike capability, a test of a nuclear warhead, and a test launch of a nuclear-tipped ballistic rocket, must be carried out as soon as possible," KCNA reported Tuesday, local time.
Kim reportedly made the statement as he provided field guidance during a "mock test" of a ballistic missile's warhead re-entry into the atmosphere after launch. He instructed a team to be "vigilant in preparation," adding that significant progress has been made in the area of ballistic rockets, although there is no direct evidence North Korea has mastered re-entry technology that could send a bomb back into the atmosphere.
North Korea could be paving the way for an event that could later be announced as a fifth nuclear test, Yonhap reported.
The announcement comes at a time when Pyongyang has already condemned the joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises, Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, which are ongoing until April.
The latest intelligence from South Korea indicated the North is planning a training mission to "liberate Seoul," using a simulated model of the city, South Korean news service Newsis reported.
Ruling party lawmaker Lee Cheol-uoo said the North sees the joint drills as a plan to invade Pyongyang, and they are responding like-for-like with a military training mission.
With the passage of U.N. sanctions, Lee said North Korea's provocations are expected to rise, and the ruling party is advocating stronger security measures.