North Korean state news agency KCNA has said that the country has passed a law declaring itself to be a nuclear state.
According to the news agency, the country’s leader Kim Jong-un called the decision “irreversible” and ruled out the possibility of any talks on denuclearisation.
The law also enshrines the North Korea’s right to use a pre-emptive nuclear strike to protect itself.
Pyongyang had conducted six nuclear tests between 2006 and 2017, despite sanctions that hit its economy hard.
Breaching United Nations Security Council resolutions, the country has continued to strengthen its military – threatening its neighbouring nations and potentially bringing the US mainland within striking range of its nuclear missiles.
Korea carried long-range launches and nuclear tests in 2019. This followed two headline-grabbing but inconclusive summits with then US president Donald Trump.
Since then, talks between the two countries have stalled. The Biden administration has indicated it would like to continue talks with Pyongyang but has not said when the two leaders will meet.
The White House also insisted that its attempts to contact Pyongyang and offer of help over its Covid outbreak had gone unanswered so far.
The US reviewed its North Korea policy last year. The White House reiterated that “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean peninsula was the goal. Biden said he would pursue it with a mix of diplomacy and “stern deterrence”. In reply, Kim said his country must prepare for both “dialogue and confrontation”.
Meanwhile, the Korean peninsula has seen tensions rise this year with Pyongyang firing a record number of ballistic missiles.
In retaliation, South Korea and the US have retaliated with a volley of missiles and the biggest joint military exercises on the Korean peninsula in many years.