North Korea speeding up nuke program with aim to obliterate 'heinous gangsters' in US

Kim Jong Un's regime is reportedly on the verge of announcing it's achieved full nuclear capability, as North Korea expedites its intercontinental ballistic missile program with the aim of being able to obliterate the "heinous gangsters" in the United States with a nuclear warhead.

South Korean unification minister Cho Myoung-gyon told foreign correspondents in Seoul that 2018 will be a “key year” for the rogue regime, which will celebrate its 70th anniversary since being established, Yonhap News Agency reported.

“North Korea has been developing its nuclear weapons at a faster-than-expected pace. We cannot rule out the possibility that North Korea could announce its completion of a clear force within one year," Cho said, according to the South Korean news site.

Cho said though North Korea hasn’t tested a nuclear weapon or missile since September, people shouldn’t overlook the brief hiatus. The regime seems to be testing missile engines and fuels, Yonhap reported.

A soldier stands on a a PAC-2 launcher (L) next to medium-range surface-to-air missiles (MSAM) during a photo opportunity ahead of a celebration to mark the 69th anniversary of Korea Armed Forces Day, in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, September 25, 2017. Picture taken on September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji - RC14CB7E5480

North Korea may announce it has achieved full nuclear capability next year.  (Reuters)

Cho warned: "It is a fact that we have witnessed some noteworthy movements in North Korea. But it remains to be seen whether Pyongyang would make further provocations.”

The South Korean official said there are four possible reasons why the regime has stayed relatively silent for the last few months — a rarity after it launched more than a dozen missiles since the start of 2017 and conducted a nuclear test on Sept. 3. North Korea launched a missile on Sept. 14 that flew over Japan, three days after the U.N. approved new sanctions against the dictatorship.

"As a seasonal factor, the North's provocations noticeably fell in the winter time. Also from the technology perspective, the North may need the time to advance its [nuclear and missile] programs as it seeks to complete its nuclear force," Cho explained.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un visits the Mangyongdae Revolutionary Academy on its 70th anniversary, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang October 13, 2017. REUTERS/KCNA   ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. - RC199DA7C990

Kim Jong Un's plan for North Korea's success includes full nuclear capability and economic prosperity.  (Reuters)

Japan’s Kyodo News claimed Monday there were radio signals that indicated a possible missile launch from North Korea was imminent. However, a missile or movable launch pad weren’t seen in satellite images, meaning the “signals” could be related to winter military training.

Cho also touched on Kim’s need to boost North Korea’s economy to prosper as a state and compete with other world powers. Experts have previously told Fox News the North Korean despot looks at economic prosperity as a key “puzzle” to his regime’s success.

“Kim's ambition to create economic development is the one promising piece in the North Korea puzzle,” John Delury, an associate professor at Yonsei University Graduate School of International Studies, told Fox News.“So far [Kim is] doing a better job of delivering results in terms of economic growth.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (not pictured) guides the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS   ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC1F73835ED0

North Korea's last missile test was in September. The missile flew over Japan before splashing into the ocean.  (KCNA via Reuters)

North Korea’s state media have continued its bombastic rhetoric against the U.S. and its neighboring enemies during its brief hiatus. Earlier this month, North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency said President Trump should be “sentenced to death” for calling Kim “short and fat.” A series of other threats were issued during Trump’s five-country Asia tour.

Cho offered a glimmer of hope for diplomatic talks with the Hermit Kingdom. He said the lull in provocations from North Korea could “set the tone” for the U.S. and other countries to “enter a dialogue with North Korea.” 

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @bykatherinelam