The top North Korean official for U.S. relations has told The Associated Press that his country is now a nuclear threat to be reckoned with, and Washington can expect more nuclear tests and missile launches like the ones earlier this week as long as it attempts to force his government's collapse through a policy of pressure and punishment.

Han Song Ryol, head of the department of U.S. affairs at North Korea's Foreign Ministry, blamed the current situation on the United States, saying it needs to stop its military threats, sanctions and economic pressure.

"Without doing so, it's like they are telling us to reconcile while they are putting a gun to our forehead," he said.

Han defended North Korea's test-launching on Wednesday of two medium-range ballistic missiles.