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FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012 file photo, New North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves at Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang after reviewing a parade of thousands of soldiers and commemorating the 70th birthday of his late father Kim Jong Il. North Korea said Kim has been promoted to Marshal, the military's highest rank. North Korean state media made the announcement Wednesday, July 18, 2012 in a special bulletin. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)

Kim Jong Un hinted he's close to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hinted Sunday that the country is close to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). 

"Research and development of cutting edge arms equipment is actively progressing and ICBM rocket test launch preparation is in its last stage," Kim said in his New Year's address.

Kim also referred to North Korea as a "nuclear and military power in the east" and threatened to only strengthen the country's military if the United States doesn't stop its "war exercises" with South Korea. 

The 'war exercises' Kim referred to 

In that statement, Kim is likely referring to the military drills the United States and South Korea conducted in August of 2016

North Korea called the drills, which 25,000 U.S. troops participated in, an invasion rehearsal, despite the fact that South Korea's Unification Ministry said they were purely defensive in nature. 

During the drills,  North Korea threatened nuclear retaliation. 

Defusing the possibility of another Korean war

Despite his threat to strengthen the country's military and test an ICBM, Kim also said efforts must be made to prevent the possibility of another Korean war, according to ABC News

Since his father's death in 2011, Kim has been pushing for progress with the country's nuclear and missile programs. North Korea recently claimed its made progress developing a long-range nuclear missile capable of reaching the U.S.

U.N. sanctions since 2006

The country has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006 because of its nuclear and ballistic missile testing, according to Reuters

Those sanctions were recently tightened after Pyongyang conducted its fifth nuclear test in September. 

Still, that hasn't stopped Kim, who previously said he was determined to develop nuclear weapons by the end of 2017 "at all costs," according to CNN. 

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