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Typically, ringing in the new year includes offerings of world peace and kindness. But, there’s nothing typical about North Korea.
The country’s dictator, Kim Jong-un, chose to usher in 2018 with threats against the United States, boasting that he has a “nuclear button” on his desk while warning America that that the arsenal at his fingertips can reach its shores and everything between.
His words rang loud and clear throughout the communist nation as he delivered a televised New Year’s Day speech.
“The U.S. should know that the button for nuclear weapons is on my table,” he said during the speech, as translated by The Associated Press.
He continued: “The entire area of the U.S. mainland is within our nuclear strike range.” And if that wasn’t enough for a cheery celebration of the new year, Kim announced plans to begin mass-producing nuclear warheads. He warned the U.S. that it can “never start a war against me and our country.”
He warned the United States that his country’s nuclear arsenal is no longer a threat, but a reality.
“We must mass-produce nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles and speed up their deployment,” the leader told his nation’s people.
This, he continued, would make it impossible for the U.S. to start a war against North Korea.
Meanwhile, he did offer his democratic neighbor South Korea hope of peace, saying he was “open to dialogue” with Seoul and he wished good luck to the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea.
“When it comes to North-South relations, we should lower the military tensions on the Korean Peninsula to create a peaceful environment,” Kim said. “Both the North and the South should make efforts.”
Kim said he will consider sending a delegation to the Winter Olympics Games to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February. Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has said he believes North Korea’s participation will help to ensure safety of the Games in his country.
Since President Donald Trump took office nearly one year ago, tensions with North Korea have ratcheted up with plenty of rhetoric coming from the U.S. leader, while North Korea continued to test-launch missiles.
After testing what North Korea described as its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile, capable of delivering a warhead to anywhere in the continental United States, at the end of November, Kim declared his nuclear arsenal to be complete.