North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un is threatening to expand his country's arsenal of nuclear weapons – unless the US ends what he is calling its hostility to his regime.
Mr Kim's comments during a key meeting of the ruling party were seen as applying pressure on the incoming administration of Joe Biden, who has called Mr Kim a "thug" and criticised his summits with Donald Trump.
President-elect Biden, who is set to take office on 20 January, is unlikely to hold direct meetings with the North Korean leader unless the country takes significant denuclearisation steps.
According to the Korean Central News Agency, Mr Kim has ordered officials to develop missiles with multiple warheads although insisted they would not be used unless his country was threatened with a nuclear attack.
He also said Pyongyang must advance its precision attack capability on targets in 15,000km range, an apparent reference to the US mainland, and develop technology to produce smaller nuclear warheads to be mounted on long-range missiles more easily.
"The reality is that we can achieve peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula when we constantly build up our national defence and suppress US military threats," Mr Kim said.
"Whoever takes office in the US, its basic nature and hostile policy will never change."
It is unclear whether North Korea is capable of creating such systems and, as one of the world's most cloistered countries, estimates on the status of its nuclear and missile programmes vary widely.
In 2018, the South Korean government said North Korea was estimated to have up to 60 nuclear weapons.
Credit: Kim Jong Un (Picture: North Korea's Korean Central News Agency).