A statement from Pyongyang on Thursday said its military had been given final approval to launch a nuclear strike against the United States following Washington's decision to move an advanced missile defence system to the Pacific island of Guam.
South Korean intelligence claims North Korea has moved a mid-range Musudan missile to the country's east coast, which would put South Korea, Japan and Guam in range.
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel admitted that North Korea is a "clear danger".
"As they have ratcheted up their dangerous rhetoric and some of the actions they have taken over the last few weeks present a real and clear danger," he said.
The US Department of Defence said on Wednesday it would deploy the ballistic Terminal High Altitude Area Defence System (Thaad) in the coming weeks.
Separately, Pyongyang has again blocked South Korean access to the Kaesong joint industrial zone
. It was the second day the North had blocked the border crossing.
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