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North Korea will "test the USA's resolve" by detonating nuclear bombs, a top general has warned.
As fears grow over dictator Kim Jong-un's nuclear testing, top American intelligence officials warned that the hermit state is likely to stage military provocations.
Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the type and scope of the provocation will depend on how much pressure Kim believes he needs to put on the US and South Korea.
He said: "We expect the Kim regime will initially avoid provoking the United States of undermining potential diplomatic engagement as it gauges the new U.S administration's approach to North Korea.
"Pyongyang probably would then seek to justify actions it is planning by using US pressure or joint US military exercises with South Korea as a pretext for testing in order to demonstrate North Korean strength and resolve."
Avril Haines, director of National Intelligence, added: "North Korea may take aggressive and potentially destabilizing actions to reshape its security environment and will seek to drive wedges between the United States and its allies.
"These efforts could include resumption of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missile testing."
North Korea started the year by unveiling what state media called "the world's most powerful weapon".
It was launched in a parade overseen by Kim days before the inauguration of US President Joe Biden and it is feared tensions between the countries are escalating.
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Despite calls for North Korea to ends its nuclear programme, Lt Gen Berrier said Pyongyang has continued and will continue to advance its weapon capability.
He said: "Despite international sanctions, North Korea will continue to modernize and increase the survivability, lethality, and diversification of its missile force.
"As North Korea continues its pursuit of more advance ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) capabilities, it will pose a greater threat to targets in North America."
It comes after Kim launched "suicide" drones as the reclusive state developed its terrifying threat.
They are said to have been successfully tested with the unmanned machines capable of being used for both reconnaissance and attacks.
Suicide drones, which fly into their target then detonate, were used to devastating effect last year by Azerbaijan during its conflict with Armenia.
- North Korea Dprk
- Kim Jong Un
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