N. Korea says sanctions will boost its nuclear deterrent

North Korea said Saturday that UN sanctions would only make its nuclear and missile programmes stronger, with the foreign ministry hinting at further nuclear tests to come.

In a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the ministry said the North would soon show the world how US "manipulation" of the UN Security Council had "reinforced" Pyongyang's permanent status as a nuclear power.

Even before Thursday's Security Council vote imposing tougher sanctions on Pyongyang over its nuclear test last month, the North Korean leadership had made it clear it would conduct more atomic and long-range missile tests in the future.

In an outpouring of warlike rhetoric before and after the sanctions vote, the North even threatened to launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes against the United States and South Korea.

The North's nuclear test in February was its largest yet in terms of apparent yield, but outside monitors have been unable to confirm the North's claim that it had successfully detonated a miniaturised device.

Experts are split on whether North Korea has the ability to fit a warhead on a rocket, although there is general agreement that it is years from developing a genuine inter-continental ballistic missile.

The foreign ministry statement said that the latest UN sanctions, instead of weakening North Korea's nuclear deterrent, would rather increase its capability "a thousand times".

Pointing to a series of sanctions "cooked up" by the UN over the past eight years, the ministry said they had only resulted in North Korea "bolstering its nuclear deterrent qualitatively and quantitatively".

Pyongyang has vowed to scrap -- effective Monday -- the 1953 armistice agreement that ended Korean war hostilities, as well as bilateral non-aggression pacts signed with South Korea.

Both South and North Korea are expected to stage large-scale military exercises next week, fuelling concerns that the current high tensions may trigger a border incident that could escalate into something more serious.