North Korea has officially declared itself a nuclear weapons state by passing legislation.
Kim Jong Un, the country’s leader, reportedly declared on Friday that the situation is “irreversible” and that there will be no talks on denuclearisation.
He emphasised that his nation will never give up the nuclear weapons it needs to stand up to the United States, which he accused of pushing for measures that would erode the North’s defenses and ultimately bring about the collapse of his regime.
The law also enshrines the country’s right to use a pre-emptive nuclear strike to protect itself.
Despite crippling sanctions, Pyongyang has conducted six nuclear tests between 2006 and 2017.
In defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, it has kept developing its military capacity, threatening its neighbors and perhaps even putting the US mainland within striking distance.
Mr Kim carried long-range launches and nuclear tests in 2019 following two headline-grabbing but inconclusive summits with then US president Donald Trump.
The White House stated that its attempts to contact Pyongyang and offer assistance with its Covid-19 outbreak had thus far gone unanswered.
The US reviewed its North Korea policy last year and reiterated that “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean peninsula was the goal.