WASHINGTON, March 29 (UPI) -- The development of nuclear weapons is part of North Korea's strategy of deterrence, a U.S. analyst said.
David Albright, president of the nonprofit Institute for Science and International Security, said Pyongyang was undertaking steps toward bomb production to discourage rival South Korea and the United States, Yonhap reported.
Speaking at George Washington University, Albright noted Pyongyang has been exaggerating its nuclear arms capabilities, and that the saber rattling has increased recently.
Nonetheless, the statements should be taken "seriously," Albright said.
Last week, Kim Jong Un had said major buildings in Seoul must be "crushed mercilessly" during an artillery practice where a North Korean general referred to the United States and South Korea forces as "bastards."
Pyongyang has also stepped up announcements of its arms development, and the state's propaganda is playing a role in its deterrence strategy.
Officials in Seoul have refuted North Korea's claim of nuclear warhead miniaturization, but others disagree.
A Japanese state think tank said in a recently published annual report Pyongyang may be capable of miniaturization, and North Korea is moving full speed ahead with submarine-launched ballistic missile development.
North Korea has touted its SLBM capability and over the weekend released footage showing the simulation of a missile striking the U.S. Capitol building.
Albright said his organization had estimated last October North Korea could have 75 pounds of plutonium and 530 pounds of highly enriched uranium.
The analyst's statements come at a time when North Korea's belligerence is to be a topic of discussion among state leaders at the fourth global nuclear security summit, being held this week in Washington, D.C.