12 January, 2017
Secretary of State John Kerry says the US may need "more forceful ways" of dealing with North Korea if it develops an intercontinental ballistic missile that threatens America.
"If it is not threatening, we won't necessarily do so.it may be more to our advantage to first of all save our interceptor inventory, and second to gather intelligence from the flight rather than do that when it's not threatening".
Anchor: The South Korean Defense Ministry says North Korea is now capable of producing about ten nuclear bombs.
North Korea, which has carried out five nuclear tests and numerous missile launches, is thought to be planning a nuclear push in 2017 as it seeks to develop a weapon system that can hit the United States mainland.
"We have reached the final stage of preparations to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile", Kim said in his New Year's address, "Research and development of cutting edge arms equipment is actively progressing".
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According to a 2016 white paper issued by South Korea's defense ministry on Wednesday, Pyongyang has amassed additional plutonium since 2014, when the country was estimated to have accumulated almost 90 pounds of fissile material, South Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo reported.
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North Korea deactivated the Yongbyon reactor in 2007 under an aid-for-disarmament accord, but began renovating it after Pyongyang's third nuclear test in 2013.
The reclusive East Asian country threatened Sunday it was going to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
The Institute for Science and International Security in the United States estimated in June 2016 that North Korea had an arsenal of between 13 and 21 atomic weapons, compared to 10-16 in 2014.
Analysts are divided over how close Pyongyang is to realising its full nuclear ambitions but all agree it has made enormous strides since Mr Kim took over as leader from his father Kim Jong Il, who died in December 2011.
The ministry also said the country developed a hydrogen bomb and "had access to standardized nuclear warheads by bolstering up its nuclear weapons on a high level at an unimaginably high speed on the strength of self-development" despite the global sanctions.
The North has also reactivated a nuclear reactor in Yongbyon, boosting its plutonium supplies, the South Korean defense ministry said.