North Korea said its main nuclear facility is now fully operational and its military has the capability of using atomic weapons at "any time". In a statement published by state news agency KCNA, Pyongyang said that all nuclear facilities at the Yongbyon complex, including the uranium enrichment plant, have been "rearranged, changed or readjusted."
"They started normal operation, pursuant to the line of simultaneously pushing forward the economic construction and the building of a nuclear force," the statement read, adding that the country's nuclear weapons program was in self-defence against the US "anachronistic hostile policy".
"If the US and other hostile forces persistently seek their reckless hostile policy towards the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [DPRK] and behave mischievously, the DPRK is fully ready to cope with them with nuclear weapons any time", the statement read.
Nuclear production at Yongbyon was shut down in 2007 as part of a disarmament agreement. The dictatorship of Kim Jong-un threatened to restart the programme amid regional tensions in 2013 and evidence works were ongoing to get back into operation emerged in recent years.
Pyongyang is not new to propagandistic threats and it remains unclear how advanced its nuclear programme really is, making it a matter of concern for world powers. The regime is believed to have enough plutonium produce atomic bombs, but it is uncertain whether it also possesses the technology to miniaturise a nuclear warhead and mount it on a ballistic missile.
Earlier this week, North Korea's National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA) said it was to launch a series of satellites aboard long-range rockets to mark the ruling Workers' Party anniversary in October. The West fears the space launch is instead part of a weapons program to develop intercontinental missiles.
The announcements came as tensions with South Korea seemed to have de-escalated after a heated August marked by exchanges of cross-border shelling and war threats. Seoul and Pyongyang had agreed to hold reunions for dozens families separated by war for decades in October.