1 Apr 2013

North Korea pledge to boost weapons programme

10:18 pm on 1 April 2013

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has promised to expand the country's nuclear weapons programme.

The pledge on Sunday comes a day after Pyongyang announced it was in a 'state of war' with the South.

In a meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party, North Korea's top brass including Mr Kim, the Supreme Leader, said the country's nuclear arsenal should be beefed up, the ABC reports.

It vowed never to trade off its nuclear weapons programme for aid and also committed the North to launch more satellites into space - a programme South Korea and the United States say is a cover for its ballistic missile development.

Mr Kim also said a light water reactor would be developed as part of a self-reliant nuclear power industry to ease electricity shortages.

Tensions have been high since Kim Jong-un ordered a third nuclear weapons test on 12 February this year, breaching United Nations sanctions and ignoring warnings from its only major ally, China, not to do so.

North Korea has been threatening to attack the South and US military bases almost on a daily basis since the beginning of March, when American and South Korean militaries started routine drills that have been conducted for decades without incident.

South Korea says any provocation from North Korea will be met by a swift and strong military response without regard for political considerations.

South Korean president Park Geun-Hye says if there is any provocation against South Korea, there should be a strong response in initial combat.

The South and the United States have met the near-daily threats from North Korea with their own warnings of repercussions, fuelling international concern that the situation might spiral out of control.