The State Department said on Monday that the United States took North Korean threats to use nuclear weapons seriously, urging Pyongyang to halt its provocations, including testing nuclear devices and long-range rockets, Reuters reports.
On Sunday, North Korea threatened "indiscriminate" nuclear strikes against South Korea and the United States if the two allies push ahead with joint military drills.
That threat came days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered his country to be prepared to use nuclear weapons “at any time”.
"We certainly do take those kinds of threats seriously … and again call on Pyongyang to cease with the provocative rhetoric, cease with the threats and quite frankly, more critically, cease with the provocative behavior, the actual conduct, that has led to yet another round of international sanctions," State Department spokesman John Kirby was quoted by Reuters as having said.
The threats from North Korea come after it carried out a nuclear test in January, in which it claimed to have been testing a hydrogen bomb. Weeks later it launched a long-range rocket, in violation of UN sanctions.
These steps resulted in the UN Security Council imposing the toughest sanctions ever on North Korea.