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Takeaways From Kim Jong-un's 2018 New Year's Address

02 January, 2018, 11:55 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stands on the shore of Heaven Lake atop Mount Baekdu

Kim Jong Un warned the United States on Monday he had a "nuclear button" on his desk ready for use if North Korea was threatened, but offered an olive branch to South Korea, saying he was "open to dialogue" with Seoul. But U.S. -based experts saw Kim's speech as a clear attempt to divide Seoul from its main ally, Washington, which has led an global campaign to pressure North Korea through sanctions to give up weapons programs aimed at developing nuclear missiles capable of hitting the United States.

North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test in September in defiance of global sanctions, raising fears of a new conflict on the Korean peninsula.

"We achieved the goal of completing our state nuclear force in 2017", Kim said in a speech broadcast live by state TV.

The main venues for the Games are just 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the heavily fortified border with North Korea and the build-up to the event has been overshadowed by the nuclear weapons standoff. That ordinance, among other things, noted that "The nuclear weapons of the DPRK can be used only by a final order of the Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army to repel invasion or attack from a hostile nuclear weapons state and make retaliatory strikes".

North Korea has come under heavy sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council as it has accelerated efforts to expand its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program. On Sunday, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen told ABC News that the USA was closer than ever before to nuclear war with North Korea.

If Kim can make it through 2018 without being annihilated in a war with the US or somehow forced to relinquish his WMDs, North Korea will likely become a full-fledged nuclear weapons state sometime this year, with all the deterrent capability and geopolitical clout that entails.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has repeatedly expressed his hope that the North will participate in the Winter Games.

Cho told a media conference he expects the two Koreas to focus on bringing a North Korean delegation to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, which begin next month, should the talks be held on January 9.

Asked to comment on Kim's speech, U.S. President Donald Trump said: "We'll see, we'll see", as he walked into a New Year's Eve celebration at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

With tensions between Washington and Pyongyang over North Korea's missile and nuclear programs showing no signs of ceasing, this statement is most likely to add fuel to the fire.

Referring to the Olympics, he said later: "We're willing to take necessary steps including sending our delegation, and for this, the authorities from the North and South could urgently meet".

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