Despite warnings from President Donald Trump's administration that more nuclear tests could result in an attack on its soil, North Korea has reportedly rebuked the United States and is "primed and ready" to launch another test of its nuclear arsenal, according to North Korea monitoring services.
"The activity during the past six weeks is suggestive of the final preparations for a test," North Korea analyst Joseph Bermudez told CNN.
Bermudez said he's able to make this determination by analyzing commercial satellite images of areas in North Korea suspected of having nuclear launch sites.
"We watch what changes from image to image," he said. "We take the current image and look back several months and compare it to what was happening then."
Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News that the U.S. military has has positioned two destroyers armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles within striking distance of North Korea, including one ship that is only 300 miles from a known North Korean nuclear site.
If the U.S. were to strike North Korea, that could result in the Hermit Kingdom retaliating by striking South Korea, a staunch U.S. ally in the region.
"By relentlessly bringing in a number of strategic nuclear assets to the Korean peninsula, the U.S. is gravely threatening the peace and safety and driving the situation to the brink of a nuclear war," the North Korean government said in a statement.
Trump's heavy-handedness regarding North Korea has been criticized by former intelligence officials, including former CIA acting Director Mike Morell.
"We have a new president and Kim Jong Un is trying to challenge him, is trying to get him back to the negotiating table," Morell told "CBS This Morning," according to Politico.
Morell praised former President Barack Obama for choosing to mostly ignore North Korea's sporadic attempts to bait the U.S. into efforts to appease them.
"Kim Jong Un wants to get back to a situation where we give them gifts when they do something bad. And then we are also making it worse, right? With our bluster and by sending aircraft carriers in there, we’re raising the crisis," Morell said.
"It's best to just ignore this guy and to deter him from ever using these weapons or selling them and to build our defenses," added Morell, who also served as deputy CIA director.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Morell opposed Trump and publicly supported Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.