Kim Jong Un has used his New Year message to warn the US that he has a “nuclear button” on his desk that is always in reach.
In his address, North Korea’s leader said his country’s nuclear forces are now a reality and not just a threat.
Mr Kim also proclaimed that the isolated state achieved the historic feat of “completing” its nuclear forces in 2017.
The speech, broadcast on North Korean television on Monday morning, suggests escalating tensions over the nation’s weapons programme are not going to die down in the coming year.
He reiterated that North Korea has developed the capability to strike all of the US mainland with its nuclear weapons, and claimed this meant that America would never be able to start a war against the country.
Last week, the UN Security Council unanimously passed new sanctions in response to Pyongyang’s recent intercontinental ballistic missile test – restricting vital oil supplies.
In response, North Korea’s official news agency described the sanctions as “an act of war violating peace and stability in the Korean peninsula and the region”.
Days later, it emerged that a North Korean soldier who defected to the South in 2017 has anthrax antibodies in his bloodstream – sparking fears that Mr Kim’s regime could use the disease as a biological weapon.