Kim says U.S. should know North Korean nuclear force a reality

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stands on the shore of Heaven Lake atop Mount Baekdu

"This is reality, not a threat", he insisted, though he suggested that the program has some work left to accomplish by stating his country will "mass produce nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles and speed up their deployment".

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".

On the same day that North Korea wished success for the upcoming 2018 Winter Games in South Korea, Olympic leaders expressed confidence that the global sporting event can reach "beyond all political division". The United Nations Security Council last month approved its strongest sanctions yet on North Korea - a move that Pyongyang described as an "act of war".

South Korea's presidential office welcomed Kim's olive branch, saying that Seoul is open to talks with the North "at any time, in any place and in any format". Since taking office in May, he has pushed for dialogue with Kim's regime in a bid to ease tensions - a shift from the conservative government that he replaced. The Olympics in Pyeongchang are about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the North Korean border, prompting concerns that North Korea might disrupt the event.

"The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, and a nuclear button is always on my desk". He said North Korea's nuclear deterrent was "irreversible" and that it would prevent Trump from starting a war.

This year's speech was seen as particularly important because of the high tensions over Pyongyang's frequent missile launches and its nuclear test in 2017.

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The light-grey suit and matching tie North Korea's Kim Jong Un donned for his New Year's address was likely carefully calculated to project a softer, more relaxed image to go with his surprise offer for talks with Seoul, analysts said on Tuesday.

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

Kim's January 1 speeches have previously set the direction for tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Analysts say Kim may be trying to drive a wedge between Seoul and its ally Washington as a way to ease worldwide isolation and sanctions against North Korea. He also did not touch on Kim's demand that Seoul cancel its annual joint military exercises with the United States.

Kim's comments on Monday were the first indication of North Korea's willingness to participate in the Winter Games, which run from February 9 to 25.

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