A test launch of ground-to-ground medium long-range ballistic rocket Hwasong-10 in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on June 23, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA
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The top North Korean official for U.S. relations told The Associated Press on Friday that his country is now a nuclear threat to be reckoned with, and Washington can expect more nuclear tests and missile launches like the ones earlier this week as long as it attempts to force his government's collapse through a policy of pressure and punishment.Han dismissed the criticism, saying North Korea has no choice but to build up its military deterrent as long as the world's largest superpower -- and the country that first developed nuclear weapons -- remains an enemy. He noted that the U.S. recently deployed nuclear-powered submarines and strategic bombers capable of dropping nuclear weapons on North Korea to the region, and earlier this year conducted training for precision airstrikes on North Korea's leadership, along with simulations of an advance into the capital, Pyongyang, with the South Korean military during joint annual exercises.Han said North Korea has never recognized a longstanding United Nations Security Council ban on its testing of nuclear weapons or long-range missiles, though the world body has ratified the resolutions and imposed heavy sanctions on North Korea for continuing them -- including a round of new sanctions imposed after its latest nuclear test in January.North Korea has repeated them for years, but they have gotten virtually no traction in the U.S., which has instead stood by its own demand that North Korea show a willingness to give up its nuclear program before any meaningful talks can begin.The policy was initiated after North Korea conducted its second nuclear test in 2009 .
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