Pyongyang: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country's ultimate goal is to possess the world's most powerful nuclear force, state media reported on Sunday.
According to Kim, building a nuclear force to protect North Korea and its people is "the greatest and most important revolutionary cause, and its ultimate goal is to possess the world's most powerful strategic force, the absolute force unprecedented in the century."
Kim made the comments on Saturday as he promoted dozens of officials involved in the recent test of a Hwasong-17, a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which he described as "the world's strongest strategic weapon."
North Korean scientists have made a "wonderful leap forward in the development of the technology of mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles," Kim said, without elaborating.
Meanwhile, North Korea's powerful Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly awarded the Hwasong-17 missile the title of "DPRK Hero and Gold Star Medal and Order of National Flag 1st Class," KCNA reported in another statement, using the initials of the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"(The missile) clearly proved before the world that the DPRK is a full-fledged nuclear power capable of standing against the nuclear supremacy of the U.S. imperialists and fully demonstrated its might as the most powerful ICBM state," KCNA said.
Capable of reaching the US mainland, the launch of the Hwasong-17 prompted Washington to call for a United Nations Security Council statement to hold North Korea accountable for its missile tests.
UN resolutions prohibit North Korea from testing ICBMs and other ballistic missiles that, depending on their design, can be armed with a nuclear warhead.
The situation on the Korean Peninsula is currently very tense. Nuclear-armed North Korea has conducted a string of missile tests in the past few weeks. The most recent launch of a suspected ICBM earlier this month was met with international criticism.
North Korea is currently testing missiles at an unusually high rate. Observers fear that Pyongyang's first nuclear test in years is imminent.