Fiery rhetoric and vitriolic threats are nothing new for North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, and he didn’t stray far from this belligerent stance in remarks he made at the start of the new year.
According to The Daily Caller, the ruthless leader put forward a somewhat mixed message in his speech, threatening nuclear war against the United States from his desk on the one hand while offering the possibility of peace talks with South Korea on the other.
This, after a year of repeated threats and tests of nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles, comes little more than a month prior to the upcoming Winter Olympics that will be hosted in Seoul.
According to Australia’s ABC News, Kim declared on state-run TV that “all” of the U.S. mainland was in range of his missiles and that he had a special “button” on his desk to order a nuclear strike at any time.
“The US cannot declare war against us,” Kim stated in his speech. “The entire US territories are within our firing range and the nuclear missile button is right there on my desk.”
“We have secured powerful deterrence against the nuclear threat from the US,” he continued, with a clear implication that his nation’s nuclear arsenal had become a reality that was near completion, and was no longer a mere threat.
“This year we should focus on mass producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment,” Kim stated. “These weapons will be used only if our security is threatened.”
However, Reuters reported that Kim also appeared to offer up an olive branch of peace to his neighbors to the south as he spoke of being “open to dialogue” with South Korea.
The bellicose dictator declared that his nation was “a peace-loving and responsible nuclear power” that sought better relations with its peninsular neighbors.
“When it comes to North-South relations, we should lower the military tensions on the Korean Peninsula to create a peaceful environment,” Kim said. “Both the North and the South should make efforts.”
It would appear that those efforts could include sending a delegation to the upcoming winter games in Seoul, a gesture that would likely lower concerns of some sort of attack being launched against the Olympics in February.
“North Korea’s participation in the Winter Games will be a good opportunity to showcase the national pride and we wish the Games will be a success,” Kim said. “Officials from the two Koreas may urgently meet to discuss the possibility.”
The Organizing Committee of the South Korean games expressed that they would welcome North Korean participation, as did South Korean President Moon Jae-in, but some U.S.-based experts on the region suspected Kim’s gesture was merely an effort to drive a wedge between the U.S. and South Korean alliance.
Asked for his response to the suggestions put forward by Kim, President Donald Trump would only say, “We’ll see, we’ll see.”
To be sure, virtually everyone would prefer to see a peaceful solution worked out between the bitter rivals that have split the Korean peninsula for nearly 70 years, but not at the cost of too many concessions to the North, such as an acceptance of the so-called “reality” of their being a permanently nuclear-armed nation.
It remains to be seen if anything will come from a dialogue between the North and South in the coming weeks ahead of the Olympic games, but one can be certain that Kim has grabbed the world’s attention once again. What he will do is anyone’s guess.
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