The White House has called on North Korea to refrain from provocations, saying the US and its allies are prepared to respond to any hostile action by Pyongyang. “And we continue to urge the North Korean regime to refrain from provocative actions and statements that tend to aggravate tensions,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on Friday. A day after the UN Security Council unanimously voted to impose harsh sanctions against Pyongyang, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered the military on Thursday to have its nuclear weapons ready and deployed to be fired at any time. “The only way for defending the sovereignty of our nation and its right to existence under the present extreme situation is to bolster up nuclear force, both in quality and quantity, and keep balance of forces,” Kim was quoted as saying by the Korean Central News Agency. Pyongyang is believed to have more than one thousand missiles of varying capabilities. Earnest, however, brushed off his remarks, saying “the kind of comments and provocative actions … are not new.” According to US officials, a group of naval ships sent to the South China Sea this week, would be in the vicinity of the Korean Peninsula, able to keep watch on North Korea’s actions. The carrier group of John C. Stennis arrived in the disputed waters this week. The US has also said it was in talks with South Korea to deploy a battery of defensive missiles to protect against any threatening action by North Korean. Washington and Seoul have reportedly worked out an agreement on the deployment of an advanced US missile system, called THAAD, to South Korea.