Kim Jong Un warned the United States of the reality of North Korea’s nuclear forces in his annual New Year’s Day address.
The North Korean leader specified that he has a nuclear button on his desk, but he won’t use it to attack unless he feels threatened, The Washington Post reported.
“The United States can never fight a war against me or our state,” he said in his speech. “It should properly know that the whole territory of the U.S. is within the range of our nuclear strike and a nuclear button is always on the desk of my office, and this is just a reality, not a threat.”
North Korea conducted its most powerful nuclear test in September, according to NBC. North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test showed that it has the capacity to send an intercontinental ballistic missile 8,100 miles — far enough to hit most of the continental United States.
Kim said in his televised speech that he wants to focus on producing more “nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles” in the new year.
“This year, we should focus on mass-producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment,” he said. “These weapons will be used only if our security is threatened.”
Amidst his warnings against the U.S., Kim asserted that “North and South must work together to alleviate the tensions” and to “find peace and stability,” according to CNN.
He also proposed talking with South Korea about North Korea taking part in the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.
“North Korea’s participation in the Winter Games will be a good opportunity to show unity of the people, and we wish the games will be a success,” he said.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in told NBC he hopes the Olympics “will be able to promote the peace between the North and South Korea and become and Olympics for peace.”
A pair of North Korean figure skaters qualified in September to compete in the upcoming winter games.
Executive director of the Arms Control Association Daryl Kimball said that the winter Olympics will “provide an opportunity to break the ice and to begin discussions with the North Koreans on mutual steps that reduce the chances of miscalculation and war.”
Head of South Korean intelligence Rah Jong-yil was not as optimistic about the peace offering between North and South Korea, according to the U.K. Telegraph.
“If talks do go ahead, then I expect North Korea to demand that joint US-Korean military exercises that are scheduled to take place at the same time as the Winter Games will be delayed or even cancelled entirely,” he said.
The U.S. and South Korea conducted a three-week training camp in early December, and South Korean forces have been preparing to provide an increased security at the Olympics, where the host site is roughly 50 miles south of the heavily militarized border between North and South Korea.
“To avoid a nuclear conflict and the full-scale deployment of an operational North Korean strategic deterrent force, US leaders, in concert with South Korea should redouble efforts to engage north Korea in direct talks and cease any further explicit or implicit threats of military action against the North,” Kimball said in an email.
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