North Korea has accused the United States of targeting it with nuclear missiles and warned that nuclear war could break out on the Korean peninsula
A commentary in the North's state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper claimed the US had 1,000 nuclear weapons in South Korea ready to strike.
Meanwhile, the Tongbil Sinbo newspaper said that North Korea is "completely within the range of US nuclear attack and the Korean peninsula is becoming an area where the chances of nuclear war are the highest in the world."
Over the weekend, North Korea angrily responded to fresh United Nations sanctions by threatening to build as many nuclear weapons as possible.
Until now, it said, it had only reprocessed one-third of its spent fuel rods into weapons-grade plutonium. Analysts believe the rogue state could end up with enough plutonium to make eight to nine bombs.
The rogue state also claimed to have a uranium-enrichment programme, the first time it has admitted to one. The claim is alarming, said Professor Yang Moo-Jin, of Seoul's University of North Korean Studies.
"The North has abundant natural uranium of good quality, which, if combined with technology and facilities, would result in a great nuclear arsenal," he said.
The new UN sanctions include the mandatory inspection of any ship suspected of carrying drugs, weapons or counterfeit money, the main sources of income for the impoverished country.
The resolution, which does not authorise the use of force against North Korea, also contains targeted financial curbs and demands that the state halt any further missile or nuclear tests. Recent US, Russian and South Korean intelligence has picked up signs of activity at the Musudan launch pad in the north of the country and it is believed that North Korea could launch another long-range ballistic missile in the coming days.
However, North Korea responded with threats that any attempt to search one of its ships would be considered "an act of war" and would be "met with a decisive military response".
Meanwhile, Kim Jong-il has paid a morale-boosting visit to the troops, according to the North Korean state news agency.
Kim told soldiers of the 7th Infantry Division that he was greatly satisfied that the army "had been prepared to perform its combat duty in any circumstance".
According to the North Korean state media, Kim "highly praised" the soldiers for their "militant training spirit" and told them that "Training is also a battle!".
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of State, said the declaration of defiance by North Korea was "deeply regrettable". The North Koreans, she said, "have now been denounced by everyone. They have become further isolated. And it is not in the interests of the people of North Korea for that isolation to continue."
Kim Yong-kyu, a spokesman for the US army in Seoul, said the US has no nuclear bombs in South Korea and called the accusation "baseless".
Lee Myung-bak, the South Korean president, is due in Washington on Tuesday for talks with Barack Obama.
North Korea claims US could provoke nuclear war - Telegraph