Kim Warns of 'Nuclear Button' on His Desk

But he has warm words for Seoul in New Year's Day speech
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 1, 2018 8:02 AM CST
Kim Warns of 'Nuclear Button' on His Desk
In this Dec. 29, 2017, photo, a man walks by the official emblem of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games, in downtown Seoul, South Korea.   (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Kim Jong Un's New Year's Day speech is being widely described as an "olive branch"—despite the fact that he warned the nuclear button is "always on his table" and bragged that the entire US is now within the range of his country's nuclear weapons. "This is reality, not a threat," the North Korean leader said, though he also said he was "open to dialogue" with South Korea and suggested his country might send a delegation to the Winter Olympics being held in the South next month, the BBC reports. He said North Korea will focus on mass-producing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in 2018, but these "weapons will be used only if our security is threatened."

"We should melt the frozen North-South relations," Kim said, adding that the "Winter Games will be a good opportunity to show unity of the people, and we wish the Games will be a success." John Delury at Seoul's Yonsei University tells the Washington Post that Kim's words "should give hope to those in the South who are trying to get something going and open a channel at least." He says Kim may be trying to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington, though the fact that the North Korean leader refrained from insulting President Trump may be a good sign. Asked about Kim's "nuclear button" remarks by reporters at the Mar-a-Lago New Year's Eve party, Trump said "We'll see." (More North Korea stories.)

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