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North Korea reveals missile plans as Kim orders production boost

North Korea reveals missile plans as Kim orders production boost

Conditions look set to worsen for the country's 25 million population after state-media announced this week that leader Kim Jong Un has ordered increased production of key missile parts.

KCNA said: "He instructed the institute to produce more solid-fuel rocket engines and rocket warhead tips by further expanding engine production process and the production capacity of rocket warhead tips and engine jets by carbon and carbon compound material".

The heated North Korean rhetoric, along with occasional weapons tests, is standard fare during the spring and summer war games by allies Seoul and Washington, but always uneasy ties between the Koreas are worse than normal this year following weeks of tit-for-tat threats between President Donald Trump and Pyongyang in the wake of the North's two intercontinental ballistic missile tests last month.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson praised North Korea's de-escalation on Tuesday, saying he was "pleased to see that the regime in Pyongyang has certainly demonstrated some level of restraint" and that continued quiet could lead to "having some dialogue" sometime in the "near future".

The actions by the Justice Department came on the same day as the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) separately imposed fresh North Korean sanctions against a string of Chinese and Russian firms for supporting Pyongyang, including the companies at the heart of the Justice Department's case.

'But Kim Jong-Un, I respect the fact that I believe he is starting to respect us. Another source said his calls to North Korea recently started going unanswered, too.

Russian Federation has repeatedly called on both Washington and Pyongyang to refrain from provocations amid increasing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

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Meanwhile, the US and South Korea are holding massive joint drills - Ulchi-Freedom Guardian - on the Korean Peninsula.

Concept diagrams of the missiles could be seen hanging on walls behind the North Korean leader as he was photographed inspecting the work of the country's Chemical Material Institute of The Academy of Defence Science.

According to USA Today, Pyongyang gave KCNA a statement that said the US and South Korea "should take the whole responsibility for catastrophic results from (a) reckless war game".

The North says it needs nuclear weapons to protect itself against the U.S.

"Treasury will continue to put pressure on North Korea by targeting those who support the advancement of nuclear and ballistic missile programs and isolating them from the American financial system", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement accompanying the sanctions announcement.

This year, the drills began in the midst of heightened tensions with North Korea.

The joint U.S. -South Korean drills last until August 31 and involve computer simulations created to prepare for war with a nuclear-capable North Korea.