North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed his firm intention to take "substantial and high-profile important state measures," state media reported Sunday, a remark seen as referring to a nuclear test.
Kim made the statement in a national defense meeting with top military and party cadres as tensions are running high after Pyongyang threatened to conduct its third nuclear test in response to a U.N. Security Council resolution punishing the regime for its Dec. 12 rocket launch.
The North has also said it has abandoned any efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.
Kim "expressed the firm resolution to take substantial and high-profile important state measures in view of the prevailing situation" as the country has already said it would take powerful physical countermeasures to defend the dignity of the nation, the North's Korean Central News Agency said.
The KCNA did not specify the "measures," but they were believed to be referring to a nuclear test.
North Korea has so far conducted two nuclear tests, first in 2006 and then in 2009.
South Korean officials have warned that the communist nation is ready to conduct a nuclear test at any time, saying all preparations are completed at the country's Punggye-ri underground test site in the North's northeast.
North Korea is angry over the U.N. resolution because it has claimed that last month's rocket launch was part of a peaceful space program. South Korea, the United States and others condemned the launch as a banned test of its long-range missile technology.
"This has thrown a grave obstacle to the efforts to be focused by the DPRK on economic construction so that the people may not tighten their belts any longer on the basis of the war deterrence for self-defense," the KCNA said in an English dispatch. The DPRK is the acronym for the North's official name.
"This fact proved once again that the DPRK should defend its sovereignty by itself. It also became clear that there can be no denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula before the world has been denuclearized."