North Korea may have sarin-laced missiles, Japan warns

"There is a possibility that North Korea already has a capability to put sarin on warheads to strike the ground", Abe said while addressing Japan's parliamentary, diplomatic and defence committee. "The issues around Syria are likely to settle down assuming USA involvement does not escalate, but North Korea is more risky".

Known as the "Day of the Sun", the biggest national day in the country's calender is being widely tipped as a possible date to launch a sixth atomic test. Outwardly, there are few signs of concern in North Korea despite the political back and forth.

North Korea's army vowed a "merciless" response to any U.S. provocation, the official news agency reported Friday, as tensions soar over Pyongyang's rogue nuclear programme.

North Korea started producing chemical weapons in the 1980s and has stockpiled various types of chemical weapons, amounting to between 2,500 and 5,000 tons, according to the South Korean government's estimate.

That came as South Korea's Foreign Ministry warned Pyongyang against any provocative acts of its own, such as a missile test, which some believe may be carried out against the backdrop of tomorrow's celebrations.

Since 2002, North Korea has allowed five Japanese abductees to return, has maintained eight others died and another four were never taken to North Korea. North Korea has amassed “substantial amount” of chemical weapons produced at several facilities, he added, without citing sources.

The statement from Pyongyang comes as tensions on the divided peninsula are high because of U.S.

ANALYST'S VIEWPOINT: "Geopolitics seemed to dominate over the past week with the ramifications of the U.S.' missile strike on Syria still reverberating and tensions around North Korea steadily building", Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP Capital, said in a daily commentary.

A Seoul-based news agency said Abe appears to be making the most of tensions stirred by the US and North Korea as a way to rally up his core right-wing supporters. In an earlier phone call, Xi told Trump that China wants to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula peacefully.

Trump and China's president discussed North Korea at a meeting last week in Florida. He added that if China doesn't do its part to rein in Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions, the USA can handle it.

In addition, the country will commemorate the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il-sung, on Saturday and the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Army on April 25.

  • Todd Kelly