North Korea, under UN sanctions for its atomic and missile tests, has said it has no "choice" but to develop nuclear weapons to defend itself against a US nuclear threat.
North Korea has never been provided with any nuclear umbrella to cope with what it views as the US nuclear threat, Ro Jong Su, a director-level researcher at the North Korean Foreign Ministry told Kyodo News.
"So we have no choice but to possess nuclear (weapons) to fill the nuclear vacuum in the region," he said in a rare interview in Pyongyang.
Rebutting the argument that Japan and South Korea could go nuclear due to the perceived threat posed by North Korea, he said: "Nobody will believe the claim that Japan and South Korea are exposed to a 'nuclear threat' because they are under the 'nuclear umbrella' of the United States, which has the biggest number of nuclear weapons in the world."
"Japan and South Korea are effectively the same as nuclear powers because they are protected by the US Nuclear umbrella and US Military forces stationed in the countries," he noted.
North Korea staged its second nuclear test in May apart from conducting a series of missile tests, resulting in the UN Security Council imposing sanctions on the country.
Reacting to the sanctions, Pyongyang has vowed to make more nuclear bombs.