Kim warns Washington of ‘nuclear button on desk’ but vows ‘Olympic truce’ with South Korea

Monday, January 1, 2018
By Paul Martin
1 Jan, 2018 12:15

After issuing threats to the US in his New Year’s message, Kim Jong-un offered some hope of a thaw in relations with South Korea, saying Pyongyang is open to talks, while wishing success for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

“The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, and a nuclear button is always on my desk. This is reality, not a threat,” he said in a televised speech, adding that “these weapons will be used only if our security is threatened.”

“We achieved the goal of completing our state nuclear force in 2017,” Kim said. “We need to mass-produce nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles and accelerate their deployment.”

However, the North Korean leader softened his tone regarding South Korea in the same speech.

“When it comes to North-South relations, we should lower the military tensions on the Korean Peninsula to create a peaceful environment,” Kim said. He added that “both the North and the South should make efforts [for peace].”

Reaching out to South Korea, which is preparing to host the Olympics for the second time in its history, Kim said Pyongyang would utilize the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games to start reconciliation with Seoul, and even consider sending a national sports team.

“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. Officials from the two Koreas may urgently meet to discuss the possibility,” said Kim, dressed in a western-style suit and tie instead of his ordinary semi-military fatigues.

Meanwhile, Lee Hee-beom, president of the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee, told Reuters the hosts welcome North Korea’s participation: “The [organizing committee] will discuss relevant matters with the South Korean government as well as the International Olympic Committee.”

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