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Vice-marshal Ri Yong-ho, Chief of the General staff, speaking at a meeting to mark the 80th anniversary of the army's founding, added that they would "cut the throats" of anyone who defamed North Korean leaders.
"The Korean People's Army is armed with powerful modern weapons ... that can defeat the [US] imperialists at a single blow," he said at the meeting which was attended by new leader Kim Jong-un.
It was unclear what weapon Vice-marshal Ri was referring to, but following the high-profile failure of a rocket launch earlier this month, North Korea is believed to be preparing its third nuclear test. On Monday, Pyongyang warned it was planning special operations against the South Korean government.
Dan Pinkston, who heads the International Crisis Group's Seoul office: "I think it is bluster, it is kind of absurd. The US has robust second-strike capabilities, if they had a war with the US, they would cease to exist."
Siegfried Hecker of the Centre for International Security and Cooperation, said North Korea has enough plutonium for about four to eight "simple" bombs, but does not yet appear to have the ability to make bombs small enough to mount on a missile.
A previously unseen missile was showcased at a parade earlier this month, and Kim Myung-chol, a North Korea apologist who has visited the state's missile units, claims that Pyongyang has munitions that can disable all electronics, potentially paralysing US forces.
Leon Panetta, the US Defence Secretary, has previously warned North Korea not to engage in further provocation.
North Korea's armed forces are formidable. They wield nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and being 1.2 million-strong, outnumber the combined South Korean – 650,000 – and US forces in Korea – 28,500.
One group of men intimate with the horror of war in Korea are British Korean War veterans visiting the country at the invitation of the South Korean government.
Today, they commemorate the Battle of the Imjin River, the bloodiest action fought by British soldiers since 1945. More Britons died in the 1950-53 Korean War than fell in the Falklands, Iraq and Afghan conflicts combined.