North Korea’s Kim Jong-un ordered the military to be ready to use its nuclear weapons at any time after the United Nations’ Security Council issued a new tough sanction on Pyongyang.

“We will mobilise various means and ways to take strong and merciless actions, including physical means.” The North’s nuclear warheads must be deployed “on standby so as to be fired at any moment”, Kim was quoted as saying by the North’s official KCNA news agency yesterday.

Tensions in the region increased following North Korea’s firing of short-range missiles into the East Sea to show defiance to UN after its toughest ever sanctions against Pyongyang after its fourth nuclear test and rocket launch.

“We sternly reject the UN sanctions as we view them to be the most reckless provocation,” it said.

Kim also warned about the situation on the divided Korean peninsula saying it has become so dangerous that the North needed to shift its military strategy to one of “pre-emptive attack”.

Responding to the report Commander Bill Urban, a U.S. Defense Department spokesman, said, “We urge North Korea to refrain from provocative actions that aggravate tensions and instead focus on fulfilling its international obligations and commitments.”

Meanwhile, North Korea’s only significant ally, China, urged the North to abandon its “self-destructive course”.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, said, that China hoped the parties would maintain restraint, and “be careful in their words and actions, and not take any actions that would exacerbate tensions in this situation”. -Malcom F.