North Korea may be able to fire missiles containing deadly sarin gas, the Prime Minister of Japan has warned.
Shinzo Abe made the stark claim in a parliamentary session as a war of words mounts between the secretive state and Donald Trump.
A US “armada” is sailing towards North Korea in a show of force amid speculation it will launch a nuclear test on its late founder’s 105th birthday this weekend.
The US President has vowed the “problem” of the hermit nation will be “taken care of”.
In response, North Korean Vice Minister Han Song Ryol warned his country was ready to use its “powerful nuclear deterrent” and would launch a “pre-emptive strike”.
Yesterday Japan’s Prime Minister said: “There is a possibility that North Korea already has a capability to deliver missiles with sarin as warheads.”
Britain says the nerve gas, which causes muscle spasms, vomiting and death, was used in last week’s deadly chemical attack that killed 87 people in Syria.
Members of a Japanese doomsday cult killed 12 people and made thousands ill in 1995 with a sarin attack on five Tokyo rush-hour subway trains.
Mr Abe did not offer any hard evidence that North Korea had the capability to use sarin in missiles.
The state is one of just six not to have joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative.
North Korea has joined the Geneva Protocol which bans the use of chemical weapons in war.
But it was accused of authorising the murder of leader Kim Jong-un’s estranged half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, with a toxic nerve agent in Kuala Lumpur International Airport.