North Korea is ready to mobilize its nuclear war deterrent and all set for any battle with the United States, the reclusive country's leader Kim Jong Un said in a speech to mark the 69th anniversary of the armistice that ended fighting in the Korean War.

Kim said Wednesday the U.S. continues “dangerous, illegal hostile acts” with South Korea against North Korea, some 70 years after the war. This constant threat has led Pyongyang to build up its defense, he added.

Pyongyang is "fully ready for any military confrontation" with the U.S., Kim said, the BBC reported, citing state news agency KCNA. The North Korean leader said “U.S. imperialists are pushing the South Korean authorities into a suicidal confrontation” with his nation.

“The South Korean regime and its military thugs are devising tactics to confront us militarily,” Kim said. “Such a dangerous attempt will be immediately punished by our powerful force, and the Yun Suk Yeol regime and his army will be eliminated.”

The speech came after officials in Seoul and Washington said North Korea has been preparing to conduct its first nuclear test since 2017 by firing off a record number of ballistic missiles. South Korea's foreign minister said Wednesday the North could face stronger sanctions if it conducts a nuclear test.

"There need to be more strengthened sanctions for North Korean IT workers stationed abroad making funds through illegal cyber hacking activity," Park Jin, who took office in May as new President Yoon Suk-yeol's top diplomat, said at a conference.

Ewha University, Seoul, professor Leif-Eric Easley reacted to Kim Jong Un's speech, calling it a righteous effort at self-defense."

“Kim’s rhetoric inflates external threats to justify his militarily focused and economically struggling regime,” he said in an email to Al Jazeera. “North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs are in violation of international law, but Kim tries to depict his destabilizing arms buildup as a righteous effort at self-defense.”

Amid the United States' focus on the Russia-Ukraine crisis, North Korea has carried out a record number of weapons tests in 2022.

In January, it said it had tested a hypersonic missile and later launched a banned intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) as well as missiles capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un holds theThird Enlarged Meeting of Eighth Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in Pyongyang North Korean leader Kim Jong Un holds theThird Enlarged Meeting of Eighth Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo released by the country's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) June 24, 2022. KCNA via REUTERS . Photo: Reuters / KCNA