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Kim Jong Un claims North Korea has miniaturized nuclear warheads

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has claimed that the isolated country has successfully miniaturized nuclear warheads for ballistic missiles. North Korean state television referred to the weapon as a "true" deterrent.

North Korea's KCNA news agency reported that according to Kim Jong Un, the country had miniaturized nuclear warheads to be mounted on ballistic missiles. The announcement came as the leader inspected a nuclear facility on March 9.

"The nuclear warheads have been standardized to be fit for ballistic missiles by miniaturizing them," Kim said during a meeting with nuclear technicians.

"This can be called a true nuclear deterrent," he added.

Rising animosities

Kim's comments came shortly after the country's National Defense Commission threatened to conduct pre-emptive nuclear attacks on South Korea and the US mainland, after Seoul and Washington had kicked off joint military exercises. Kim said that North Korea would "never hesitate to make a pre-emptive nuclear strike" in the event of the US and its allies trying to undermine its national sovereignty as a nuclear state.

Kim substantiated the country's claim to have successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead to be mounted on a ballistic missile for the first time. However, the allegation is widely questioned.

North Korea had conducted its fourth nuclear test on January 6, claiming it was a successful hydrogen bomb test. Experts, however, have

disputed that it was a hydrogen bomb

, as have the governments of South Korea and the United States.

The UN Security Council imposed

new sanctions on Pyongyang

, which led North Korea to ramp up its

belligerent rhetoric

on state media.

ss/rc (AFP, Reuters)

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