North Korean leader Kim Jong Un brought in the New Year Sunday by bragging about the country's progress toward developing a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). It's the sort of statement aimed at putting the rest of the world on alert and a common tactic for the dictatorial leader, who has ruled for five years. 

Kim said in televised remarks New Year's Day that the country was nearly ready to test its ICBM, which can carry nuclear weapons. "Research and development of the cutting-edge tech weapons are actively progressing and strengthening our defense capabilities, including last stage preparation of tests for Intercontinental Ballistic rocket launch have been continuously succeeding," Kim said.

Kim added that the country would increase preparations for launching a nuclear strike against the U.S. or South Korea if the countries did not stop carrying out joint military exercises. Experts are skeptical of North Korea's nuclear capabilities however, noting that country has struggled with the re-entry technology for long-range missilies that are launched into space.

North Korea did test missiles at extremely high levels in 2016, including two nuclear tests. Kim has regularly provoked the West, which Newsweek argued in December is posturing. "It's unlikely [Kim's] intentions have changed: With another nuclear or missile test, he gets to strut before the home crowd, showing them he's going to poke whoever is in power in Washington; and he's going to signal to the outside world: Don't even think about coming after us," wrote correspondent Bill Powell.

In perhaps the most hermetic country in the world — and a country with growing signs of dissent amid a despondent population — Kim and his surrogates often use highly public speeches to project power. A top general said in 2015 that if the U.S. provoked a war, "there would be no one left to sign a surrender document." In a March 2016 statement aimed at South Korea and the U.S., North Korea said, "If we push the buttons to annihilate the enemies even right now, all bases of provocations will be reduced to seas in flames and ashes in a moment."

Those sorts of statement have become common for Kim, in contrast to his father Kim Jong Il, who rarely spoke in public. And while some have argued it's posturing, the threats are indicative of the fact that during Kim's five years of rule after his father's death, the country has focused on its nuclear capabilities — and it wants the West to know.