NKorea vows to strengthen nukes as US increases pressure

North Korea has vowed to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead that can strike the mainland United States, saying the programme is necessary to counter USA aggression.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers a New Year's address in this January 1, 2015 photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang.

North Korea's deputy UN ambassador says the country will rapidly strengthen its nuclear strike capability as long as the United States maintains its "hostile policy" toward the country. Its ambassador to China said in Beijing on Monday it would continue such test launches "any time, any place".Trump and new South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet in Washington next month, with North Korea expected to be high on the agenda, the South's presidential Blue House said.

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Kim singled out as "more serious" the push by the US for a new sanctions resolution and the Trump administration's demand for all countries "to decide whether they support for DPRK or U.S".

Guiding a long-range missile to a target on return to Earth is a key technological hurdle that North Korea must overcome in trying to flawless a missile that could threaten the United States. If this goes to a military solution, it's going to be tragic on an unbelievable scale.

US President Donald Trump's administration has called for an immediate halt to Pyongyang's provocations and has warned that the "era of strategic patience" with North Korea is over.

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He said North Korea "probably learned a lot" from last weekend's test.

North Korea launched its latest missile test on Saturday in defiance of global sanctions as the UN Security Council demanded Pyongyang halt all ballistic missile tests. "You have to choose, you have to pick a side".

This appeared a bit short of an outright precondition, though Kim insisted that North Korea views United States hostility as "the root cause of all problems" in the region. A U.S. State Department spokesman said the United States remains open to talks with North Korea but the country would have to "cease all its illegal activities and aggressive behavior in the region".

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