By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, March 22 (Yonhap) -- There is no indication that North Korea may use its nuclear weapons to attack the United States or its allies in the near future, a spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council (NSC) said Wednesday.
John Kirby, NSC coordinator for strategic communications, made the remarks after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reportedly stressed the need for the country's military to take an "immediate and overwhelming nuclear counterattack" when necessary.
"There is no indications or no information at this time that would lead us to believe that some sort of actual strike by North Korea is imminent," the NSC official said when asked if the North may be preparing to take a nuclear attack.
"But we're watching and monitoring as best we can," Kirby told a White House press briefing.
North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile on Sunday (Korea time), which its state media later said was a simulation of a "tactical nuclear counterattack."
Pyongyang has been consistently intensifying its nuclear rhetoric since last year when it enacted a new law that it said would allow "preemptive" use of nuclear weapons against South Korea and the U.S.
Kirby said the U.S. remains committed to engaging with the North, but that it will continue to enhance its defense capabilities amid an ongoing lack of dialogue with Pyongyang.
"Again, we urge Mr. Kim to sit down with the United States, without preconditions," he said. "(We are) willing to sit down without precondition to talk about deescalation of tensions and denuclearization of the peninsula."
"He (Kim) hasn't taken us up on that offer, so we are going to continue to make sure we've got the requisite military capabilities in place," added Kirby.
North Korea last held denuclearization talks with the U.S. in 2019.
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