North Korea has reiterated that Pyongyang would not scale down its weapons programme but would go ahead and conduct a nuclear test whenever the country's leader Kim Jong-un orders it. The reclusive nation's vice foreign minister also added that it would not stay silent in the event of a pre-emptive strike by the US.
Tensions are high in the Korean peninsula with North Korean observers fearing that Pyongyang is preparing to conduct another nuclear detonation soon. The rogue regime, which often resorts to belligerent rhetoric, is also infuriated by the presence of the massive strike group of the US Navy.
Speaking to the Associated Press news agency in Pyongyang, Vice Minister Han Song Ryol said the current situation in the Korean peninsula is a "vicious cycle" but blamed it on his adversaries, the US and South Korea.
When asked about reports suggesting that the US could mount pre-emptive strikes on North Korea's key positions including missile and nuclear sites, Han said Pyongyang would not "keep its hands crossed" if that happens.
"[US President Donald] Trump is always making provocations with his aggressive words. .... It's not the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] but the US and Trump that makes trouble," Han said.
The minister's comments coincide with multiple reports that have emerged indicating Washington is prepared to launch strikes on the North if it attempts to press on with more provocative acts.
Concerns are growing in the region as the North has announced that it is preparing for a major occasion, possibly hinting that it could carry out another nuclear detonation to mark a series of anniversaries in the country. If the country pushes ahead with a nuclear test, this would be North Korea's sixth such detonation defying an array of international regulations.