North Korea has threatened a ‘merciless’ nuclear strike ‘at the heart of the US’ if Kim Jong-Un’s regime is threatened.

State-run news agency Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported the threat Tuesday in response to comments CIA Director Mike Pompeo made last week. He said Trump’s administration needs to find a way to separate the country’s Supreme Leader from their nuclear weapons.

According to KCNA, a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson said, “The DPRK legally stipulates that if the supreme dignity of the DPRK is threatened, it must preemptively annihilate those countries and entities that are directly or indirectly involved in it, by mobilizing all kinds of strike means including the nuclear ones. Should the US dare to show even the slightest sign of attempt to remove our supreme leadership, we will strike a merciless blow at the heart of the US with our powerful nuclear hammer, honed and hardened over time.”

The report comes as US officials are saying North Korea could be capable of launching a nuclear attack on other continents within just one year. Independent experts said today that the missile that was launched by Kim on July 4 isn’t capable of carrying a nuclear payload across the Pacific, but that may not hold for long, according to media reports.

The Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) says that North Korea is on track to build a nuclear-equipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) within the next year, shaving two years off the previous projections.

Both the DIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) declined to respond to the Washington Post about the classified assessments, however, the ODNI’s national intelligence manager for East Asia, Scott Bray, did say that the July 4 launch was “one of the milestones that we have expected would help refine our timeline and judgments.”

“This test, and its impact on our assessments, highlight the threat that North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs pose to the United States, to our allies in the region, and to the whole world,” he added.
“The intelligence community is closely monitoring the expanding threat from North Korea.”