North Korea has threatened to attack the US with nuclear weapons if the country “forces it to do so”.

Park Yong-Chol, the deputy director of the North Korean think tank the Institute for Research into National Reunification, gave a rare two-hour interview with CNN on Thursday.

The network said it was only allowed to conduct the interview on the basis that two portraits of former leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il were visible behind Park during filming.

In it, he escalated Pyongyang’s fiery rhetoric by claiming North Korea was nuclear-capable and equipped with long-range missiles he warned could reach mainland US.

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