S. Korean president welcomes DPRK leader's New Year address

S. Korean president welcomes DPRK leader's New Year address

North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, has warned the United States his country's nuclear forces are now "completed", adding that the nuclear launch button was always within easy reach, The Guardian writes.

Kim also stressed North Korea's economic achievements during the speech, and noted the importance of improving the nation's standard of living. Relations between the Koreas have plunged as North Korea has expanded its weapons programs amid a hard-line stance by Moon's conservative predecessors. South Korean President Moon Jae-in, as part of his pursuit of engagement with the North, has called for North Korea's participation. Outside experts say that it's only a matter of time before the North acquires the ability to hurl nuclear weapons at the mainland USA, but that the country still has a few technologies to master, such as a warhead's ability to survive atmospheric re-entry.

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.

"The change from the (Kim's) previous dark Maoist suits to a softer toned grey Western-style suit likely aimed to underpin peace which Kim stressed in his address, and reflected a relaxed state of mind that probably came with the completion of the North's nuclear power", the Institute said. After the Olympics, inter-Korean ties could become frosty again because the North has made it clear it has no intention of accepting worldwide calls for nuclear disarmament and instead wants to bolster its weapons arsenal in the face of what it considers increasing USA threats.

As well as Kim's overtures to his Southern neighbors, he also announced plans to start mass-producing nuclear warheads as he delivered a televised New Year's Day speech.

More news: Cold here to stay, some snow on the way for Saturday

"Kim Jong Un's strategy remains the same".

But many North Korea watchers say the young leader's two-track approach is a ploy to shake the South Korea-U.S. alliance.

He said the North and South could meet urgently to discuss the North sending a delegation.

Kim said: "The Winter Olympic games that will be held soon in the South will be a good opportunity to display the status of the Korean nation, and we sincerely wish that the event will be held with good results". The U.S. "should accurately be aware that this is not a threat but a reality". In his address, he also called for warming relations with South Korea.

"The U.S. should know that the button for nuclear weapons is on my table", he said, according to the Associated Press translation, in a speech carried by state television.

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