North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has chided his soldiers, telling them to be ready for "impending conflict with the United States," Pyongyang media reported yesterday as satellites showed a nuclear test could be near.
The report comes as US President Barack Obama finishes up a two-day visit to South Korea, where he called North Korea is a "pariah state" and warned the North it faced tougher sanctions if the underground detonation went ahead.
Obama yesterday became the first sitting US president in nearly a half-century to visit Malaysia, where an official said he immediately expressed solidarity over the frustrating effort to find missing flight MH370.
Kim, the supreme commander of the North's 1.2-million-strong armed forces often visits military units to deliver on-the-spot "guidance" on ways to strengthen preparedness.
But after watching a shelling drill by an artillery sub-unit on Friday, he upbraided soldiers for their lax approach, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
"Dear Supreme Commander Kim Jong-Un said nothing is more important than preparing for combat now, in the face of an impending conflict with the United States", KCNA reported.
North Korean state media regularly carries colourfully-phrased warnings that the isolated state is on the verge of war. It has conducted three nuclear tests, in 2006, 2009 and 2013.