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North Korea vows 'weekly missile tests' as war looms on Korean Peninsula

The leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, in Pyongyang, on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images

North Korea said that it would conduct more missile tests on "a weekly, monthly and yearly basis", as tensions soar over the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

In an interview with the BBC, North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Han Song-ryol warned that an "all-out war" would break out if Washington took military action against Pyongyang, which has stepped up its nuclear and missiles tests in recent years, despite the opposition from the international community and United Nations sanctions.

"If the US is planning a military attack against us, we will react with a nuclear pre-emptive strike by our own style and method," Han said in the interview, adding that the security of his country could be safeguarded by its nuclear weapons in military confrontation with the US.

Han's remarks come after US Vice President Mike Pence visited the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea and highlighted extreme measures aimed at forcing North Korea to give up its nuclear program on Monday.

"Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan," Pence said at a press conference on Monday, which was also attended by South Korea's Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn.

The US Navy recently launched airstrikes in Syria after an alleged chemical weapons attack, which was followed by the dropping of the "mother of all bombs", the largest non-nuclear device the US has ever unleashed in combat, on caves and tunnels used by the Islamic State in Afghanistan. The military operations in Syria and Afghanistan are widely seen as a sign that Washington would take a similar action against Pyongyang.

Pence also warned North Korea not to test US President Donald Trump's resolve or the strength of the US armed forces in the region, saying that the "era of strategic patience" was over.

The US vice president did not root out the silver lining of a peaceful solution to the North Korean nuclear issue.

"But we are going to redouble our efforts to bring diplomatic and economic pressure to bear on North Korea. Our hope is that we can resolve this issue peacefully," CNN quoted Pence's remarks made during the visit to the demilitarized zone as saying.

Also on Monday, Susan Thornton, US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said at a teleconference that the US wanted "peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", in response to a reporter's question about the US reaction if North Korea goes ahead with a sixth nuclear test, according to a statement published on the website of the US Department of State.

"We are definitely not seeking conflict or regime change, but we are committed to defending our people and our allies should it be necessary," Thornton said.

At a regular news briefing on Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang reiterated the Chinese government's stance to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula through peaceful means, and welcome the US role in solving the problem in a peaceful way.

In order to gain more Chinese support in stopping North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, the US Treasury Department has officially declined to label China as a currency manipulator.

At a Monday press conference, White House spokesman Sean Spicer admitted that it is not a good time to declare China as a currency meddler because China is sending a positive sign to help the US curb North Korea's nuclear ambition and it is productive for the US to achieve a very important national strategic goal.

However, North Korea appears to have had no intention to change its provocative rhetoric.

Kin In-ryong, North Korea's deputy UN ambassador, said on Monday at a press conference that the sixth nuclear test would take place "at a time and place where our headquarters deems necessary". The North Koran ambassador also condemned the US for creating a dangerous situation where a nuclear war could break out at any time.

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