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(LEAD) N. Korean leader orders nuclear weapons to be made ready for use

All Headlines 09:44 March 04, 2016

(ATTN: COMBINES this story with another story slugged 'N Korea leader-test-firing'; UPDATES throughout with more details, background)

SEOUL, March 4 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered the country's nuclear weapons to be made ready for use at a "moment's notice," its state media reported on Friday.

He also said the communist state will revise its military posture so that it can be ready to carry out pre-emptive attacks, stressing that the current situation has become "very precarious," according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Kim made the remarks while attending the North's test-firing Thursday of a new multiple launch rocket system during his "field guidance," the KCNA said.

The KCNA did not mention the exact time and venue of the test. But Seoul officials believe it took place in the North's eastern coastal city of Wonsan on Thursday when the North was seen firing six short-range projectiles into the East Sea.

The North Korean leader has put his military on high alert as South Korea and the U.S. are poised to stage their annual military drills this month. Pyongyang has criticized the planned allied drills as intended to "decapitate" its leadership.

The new artillery system, tested on Thursday, appears to be a 300-millimeter-caliber multiple launch rocket system, Seoul officials said. The system is thought to have a range of 200 kilometers -- far enough to strike South Korean and U.S. military installations well beyond the Seoul metropolitan area.

Kim ordered his military to "promptly" deploy the advanced artillery system, the KCNA said.

Over the last three years, Kim has attended the testing of the new multiple rocket launcher a total of 13 times, the North's media said, noting his keen interest in the development of the formidable weapons system.

Kim's provocative remarks came more than a day after the United Nations Security Council passed a new sanctions resolution penalizing the country for its fourth nuclear test and long-range missile launch earlier in the year.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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