North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reiterated his intention to "pre-emptively" use the country's nuclear weapons if the nation is threatened by what it regards as "hostile forces," state-run media reported Saturday.

While praising top military officials who directed a vast military parade in Pyongyang earlier in the week, Kim was quoted by the official Korean Central News Agency as expressing his eagerness to continue developing nuclear weapons.

North Korea will "pre-emptively and thoroughly contain and frustrate all dangerous attempts and threatening moves, including ever-escalating nuclear threats from hostile forces, if necessary," Kim told the military officials, according to the news agency.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C, front row) is pictured with commanding officers of the country's military, as reported in Rodong Sinmun on April 30, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Korea Media)(Kyodo) 

On the occasion of the military parade on Monday to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of North Korea's army, Kim pledged to bolster development of nuclear weapons at a faster pace and use them if the country's fundamental interests are jeopardized.

Kim's remarks were an apparent warning to the United States, which has recently deployed a nuclear aircraft carrier to the Sea of Japan, and South Korea, where conservative President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol will take office on May 10.

South Korea has said it has detected activity to restore tunnels at North Korea's only known nuclear test site. In May 2018, Pyongyang said it had "completely" demolished the Punggye-ri site in the presence of foreign reporters.

The United States and its security allies South Korea and Japan have strengthened surveillance of North Korea, with concern mounting that Pyongyang will launch an intercontinental ballistic missile or conduct its seventh nuclear test in the near future.

On March 24, North Korea conducted the first launch of an ICBM since November 2017, marking an end to its self-imposed moratorium on such firings stretching back to April 2018. KCNA said the missile was a Hwasong-17.

Pyongyang said earlier this year that it may resume all "activities" it had temporarily suspended to build trust with former U.S. President Donald Trump, President Joe Biden's predecessor, while urging Washington to change its "hostile policy."

On April 17, KCNA reported Kim observed the test-firing of a "new-type tactical guided weapon" the previous day. Some foreign affairs experts say that it could carry a tactical nuclear weapon for a limited strike.

North Korea's media, meanwhile, said that Kim and outgoing South Korean President Moon Jae In exchanged personal letters and shared the view that inter-Korean ties "would improve" if both sides "make tireless efforts with hope."

The United States and North Korea remain technically in a state of war as the 1950-1953 Korean War, in which U.S.-led U.N. forces fought alongside the South against the North supported by China and the Soviet Union, ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

North Korea's last nuclear test, its sixth, took place in September 2017. Trump called on Kim to scrap all of the country's nuclear facilities, including undeclared ones, but it is uncertain whether Pyongyang has dismantled them.

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North Korea test-fired "new-type tactical guided weapon": KCNA