North Korea Warns Main Nuclear Site is Fully Operational

North Korea announced that its main nuclear site is fully operational on Tuesday, and that it is improving its nuclear weapons "in quality and quantity", according to state news agency KCNA. The propaganda arm of the North Korean regime also said that the country is ready to stand up to U.S. aggression in the region with nuclear weapons "at any time."

The Yongbyon nuclear complex was closed in 2007 and North Korea had previously threatened to reopen it, particularly in 2013 after the country's third nuclear test. The director of North Korea's Atomic Energy Institute, unnamed in comments quoted by KCNA and reported by Sky News, said that its scientists had "made innovations day by day" in order to "guarantee the reliability of the nuclear deterrent...as required by the prevailing situation."

"In the meantime, the U.S. anachronistic hostile policy toward the DPRK that forced it to have access to the nuclear weapons has remained utterly unchanged and instead it has become all the more undisguised and vicious with the adoption of means openly seeking the downfall of the latter's social system," the director added.

"If the U.S. and other hostile forces persistently seek their reckless hostile policy towards the DPRK and behave mischievously, the DPRK is fully ready to cope with them with nuclear weapons any time."

The hermit kingdom regularly makes bold threats against the outside world and overexaggerates its military might but its nuclear capabilities remain unclear. The latest claim is set to worsen relations with both of its main enemies, the U.S. and South Korea.

Tensions increased on the Korean Peninsula last month when South Korea restarted its loudspeaker broadcasts across the demilitarized zone after a landmine, planted by North Korea exploded, injuring two South Korean soldiers, and leading to an exchange of rocket fire between the two countries.

Kim Jong Un, North Korea's leader, ordered his frontline troops on the border with South Korea to be "on a war footing" to prepare for conflict with the South. However, both Pyongyang and Seoul subsequently agreed to reduce tensions.

South Korea and the U.S. also staged annual joint military exercises last month, which simulates a North Korean attack, involving 50,000 Korean and 30,000 American soldiers in a Korean Peninsula-wide operation. North Korea protested the drills to the U.N. Security Council, requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the exercises they perceive to be preparation for an invasion.