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North Korea vows 'exponential increase' of nuke arsenal

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed for the “exponential increase” of the country’s nuclear arsenal as he started the new year with another weapons test. 

North Korean state media reported that Kim also ordered the development of a more powerful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). He said at a recent party meeting that North Korea is being isolated and stifled to an unprecedented level in human history and the situation calls for making “redoubled efforts” to increase “military muscle.” 

He said the ICBM should have a “quick nuclear counterstrike” capability and the country’s first military reconnaissance satellite will be launched at the “earliest date possible.” 

North Korea previously claimed to have performed the tests needed to develop a new weapon, likely a solid-fueled ICBM, and a spy satellite. 

South Korea’s Defense Ministry responded to Kim’s latest comments in saying that any North Korean attempt to use nuclear weapons will result in the end of their government. 

South Korea’s military detected a short-range ballistic missile launched from North Korea’s capital region, which it said traveled about 400 kilometers before falling into the water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. 

It also detected three short-range missiles fired on Saturday. 

Kim has emphasized expanding the nuclear arsenal in recent years, especially since his summit with former President Trump did not yield any agreement on the arsenal. 

He said North Korea was testing its super-large multiple rocket launcher on Saturday and Sunday. He said the launcher puts all of South Korea in striking distance and can carry a tactical nuclear warhead. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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