The Pentagon on Thursday downplayed the risk from North Korea's nuclear arsenal, after the country's leader Kim Jong Un said the country's nuclear weapons must be ready for pre-emptive use at "anytime"
"The U.S. government assessment has not changed," a defense official told the news agency.
"We have not seen North Korea test or demonstrate the ability to miniaturize a nuclear weapon and put it on an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile)," added the official.
Still, he said, "our forces are ready to counter-eliminate strikes if necessary."
Meanwhile, according to AFP, a senior official from President Barack Obama's administration called for calm.
"We urge North Korea to refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric that aggravate tensions and instead focus on fulfilling its international obligations and commitments," the official said.
Kim cited a threat from “enemies” in his call for the country to be ready to use nuclear weapons.
He did not specify who these “enemies” are, but the isolated country's biggest enemy is its neighbor to the south. North Korea considers the United States to be an enemy as well due to Washington's support of South Korea.
Kim's threats came one day after the UN adopted the toughest sanctions to date on North Korea, in response to its fourth nuclear test and rocket launch.
The Security Council unanimously passed a resolution imposing new sanctions after seven weeks of arduous negotiations between the United States and China, Pyongyang's sole ally.
The United States originally expressed skepticism over Pyongyang’s claims that it tested a hydrogen bomb during the January 6 test, but later changed its mind after further review and analysis of the intelligence information.