The North Korean parliament has today endorsed plans to give nuclear weapons greater prominence in the country’s defences.
North Korea’s move came a day after the ruling Workers’ Party called for nuclear forces to be “expanded and beefed up qualitatively and quantitatively”.
North Korea has said it is entering a “state of war” with the South – prompting Seoul to promise a “strong response” to aggression by the North.
Meanwhile, North Korea has announced it has appointed a new premier, Pak Pong-ju. He was sacked from the same post in 2007.
North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly convened on Monday for a day-long annual session. It normally focuses on making economic decisions.
But state news agency KCNA said the body had “unanimously adopted an ordinance that provides for giving nuclear weapons greater prominence in the defence of the country”.
The law reads that North Korea’s nuclear weapons are a “means of defence” and serve the purpose of “dealing deadly retaliatory blows at the strongholds of aggression until the world is denuclearized”.
On Sunday the Workers’ Party Central Committee held a rare high-level meeting in which it described nuclear weapons as “the nation’s life”.
“The DPRK [North Korea]’s possession of nuclear weapons should be fixed by law and the nuclear armed forces should be expanded and beefed up qualitatively and quantitatively,” a KCNA report on the meeting said.
“The People’s Army should perfect the war method and operation in the direction of raising the pivotal role of the nuclear armed forces in all aspects concerning war deterrence and war strategy.”
In the last few days North Korea has issued multiple warnings of attacks on US and South Korean targets – to which the US has responded with an apparent show of military hardware.
Speaking to defence officials on Monday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said that she took the series of threats from Pyongyang “very seriously”.