North Korea has nuclear missiles and is prepared to use them at any time, an envoy for the country said in a recent interview.
North Korean Ambassador to Britain Hyun Hak Bong told Sky News that his government would use the missiles in response to a nuclear attack by the U.S.
Asked whether North Korea has the ability now to launch a nuclear missile, Hyun replied: "Any time. Any time. Yes."
"If the United States strike us, we should strike back," he said.
The ambassador reaffirmed that the country does not “want war, but we are not afraid of war.”
North Korea is thought to have a handful of crude nuclear bombs and has conducted tests since 2006. However, experts are divided on how advanced the country’s technology is and is unsure if they could miniaturize warheads so they can be placed on missiles.
The spokesman for South Korea's Defense Ministry, Kim Min-seok, said Saturday that while North Korea might have advanced its technologies for miniaturizing nuclear warheads so they can be installed on missiles, Seoul does not believe they have succeeded yet.
Kim pointed out that the North has conducted only three nuclear tests so far and it's unclear how successful they were.
The Institute for Science and International Security estimated that North Korea has between 10 and 16 nuclear weapons, some based on plutonium and others on uranium. The agency concluded that the country has weapons small enough to mound on medium-range intercontinental-range missiles.
The United Nations has imposed sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs.
Hyun's comments come as rival South Korea and the United States conduct annual springtime military drills that North Korea says are aimed at preparing to topple its government. Seoul and Washington say the exercises are purely defensive.
The U.S. stations about 28,500 soldiers in South Korea to deter possible aggression from North Korea.
The Associated Press contributed to this report