North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called for his nuclear scientists to increase production of weapons-grade material to make bombs to put on his increasing range of weapons, the AP reports. The report in state media Tuesday followed a series of missile launches—seven launch events in this month alone—and rising threats to use the weapons against his enemies. North Korea’s weapons tests and US-South Korea military exercises have intensified in a tit-for-tat cycle, underscoring heightened tensions in the region. Officials say North Korea could further up the ante in coming weeks or months with more provocative displays of its military nuclear program, possibly including its first test detonation of a nuclear device since September 2017.
The Korean Central News Agency said Kim during a meeting on Monday with officials and scientists at a state nuclear weapons institute stressed the need to ramp up bomb fuel production to meet his goals to expand his nuclear arsenal “exponentially,” and issued unspecified “important tasks” for his nuclear industry. Kim also examined the country’s established plans for nuclear counterattacks as scientists briefed him on the North’s latest nuclear-capable weapons systems and progress in technologies for mounting nuclear warheads on missiles, the agency said. (More, including details on the warhead unveiled in North Korean photos of the meeting, here.)