PYONGYANG, North Korea (April 4, 2013)--The North Korean army is warning Washington that its military has been cleared to stage an attack using "smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear" weapons.
The threat early Thursday from an unnamed army spokesman was the latest in a series of escalating warnings from North Korea, which has railed for weeks against joint U.S. and South Korean military exercises taking place in South Korea and has expressed anger over tightened sanctions for a February nuclear test.
The spokesman said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency that troops have been authorized to counter U.S. aggression with "powerful practical military counteractions."
South Korea's defense minister said North Korea has moved a missile with "considerable range" to its east coast, but said it is not capable of hitting the United States.
Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin Thursday dismissed reports in Japanese and South Korean media that the missile could be a KN-08, which is believed to be a long-range missile that if operable could hit the United States.
Kim told lawmakers at a hearing that the missile's range is considerable but not far enough to hit the U.S. mainland.
He said he did not know the reasons behind the missile movement, saying it "could be for testing or drills."
Experts say North Korea has not demonstrated that it has missiles capable of long range or accuracy.
Some suspect that long-range missiles unveiled by Pyongyang at a parade last year were actually mockups.