The potential resumption of tests of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles come as tensions with Washington intensify.
North Korea has hinted it could resume nuclear and long-range weapons tests as it prepares for "confrontation" with Washington, its latest threat after a string of sanctions-busting missile launches.
"The hostile policy and military threat by the US have reached a danger line that cannot be overlooked anymore," a report on a meeting of the country's Politburo in state media KCNA said on Thursday.
Pyongyang has not tested inter-continental ballistic missiles or nukes since 2017, putting launches on hold as leader Kim Jong-un embarked on a blitz of high-level diplomacy, meeting then-US president Donald Trump three times before talks collapsed two years later.
Since then, the nuclear-armed North has rebuffed US offers of talks while restarting some testing, including of hypersonic missiles, as Kim pursues his avowed goal of further strengthening his military.
When Washington imposed fresh sanctions last week, Pyongyang said it was a "provocation" and ramped up conventional weapons tests, vowing a "stronger and certain" response to efforts to rein it in.
The North's top officials "unanimously recognised that we should make more thorough preparation for a long-term confrontation with the US imperialists," KCNA reported.
‘It is practically 2017 again’
North Korea bided its time during US President Joe Biden's first year in office, but with no offer for top-level talks, they've moved on, said Hong Min of the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul.
"It's practically 2017 again," he said, referring to a year in which Pyongyang tested nukes and ICBMs as "little rocket man" Kim Jong-un exchanged barbs with "dotard" Trump.
Ankit Panda of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace agreed that while nuclear testing was unlikely, "long-range missile testing is back on the table."
The wording of the latest KCNA missive, however, indicates that "Pyongyang may be leaving some space for flexibility, depending on how the Biden administration responds," said Rachel Minyoung Lee of the Stimson Center.
Earlier this week the United States called on the country to "cease its unlawful and destabilising activities" after it said it would seek new UN sanctions on North Korea.
But China's special representative on Korean peninsula affairs poured cold water on the idea of a security council meeting to discuss fresh curbs on the North's already-struggling economy.
In response to the #US pushing a new round of #UN sanctions on the #DPRK, #FM #Spokesperson said we noted the latest developments regarding the #KoreanPeninsula. The #SecurityCouncil has no plan to discuss the so-called draft resolution concerning sanctions on the #DPRK.— 刘晓明Liu Xiaoming (@AmbLiuXiaoMing) January 20, 2022