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Kim says US should know North Korean nuclear force a reality

  • South Koreans watch a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s speech, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, today. AP Photo

  • Visitors walk by a TV screen showing a TV news program reporting about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's New Year's speech, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. The letters read on top left, "Kim Jong Un delivers New Year's speech." Kim said the United States should be aware that his country's nuclear forces are now a reality, not a threat. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man) Lee Jin-man

  • FILE - In this Dec. 23, 2017, file photo distributed on Dec. 24, 2017, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during the conference of cell chairpersons of the ruling party in Pyongyang. Kim said the United States should be aware that his country's nuclear forces are now a reality, not a threat. Kim was speaking in his New Year's Day address. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File) 朝鮮通信社

  • North Koreans watch as fireworks explode as part of New Year celebrations, above the Taedong River as viewed from Kim Il Sung Square, in Pyongyang, North Korea. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin) Jon Chol Jin



Associated Press
Sunday, December 31, 2017

TOKYO — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Monday the United States should be aware that his country’s nuclear forces are now a reality, not a threat. But he also struck a conciliatory tone in his annual New Year’s address, wishing success for the Winter Olympics set to begin in the South in February and suggesting the North may send a delegation to participate.

Kim, wearing a Western-style gray suit and tie, said in his annual New Year’s Day address his country had achieved the historic feat of “completing” its nuclear forces and added he has a nuclear button on his desk.

“The U.S. should know that the button for nuclear weapons is on my table,” he said during the speech, as provisionally translated by the AP. The official transcript of his address was expected to be released shortly. “The entire area of the U.S. mainland is within our nuclear strike range. ... The United States can never start a war against me and our country.”

Kim also called for improved relations with the South, an idea mentioned in speeches more often than it is met. He said the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics would be a good opportunity to showcase the status of the Korean nation.

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

“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,” he said.

The New Year’s address is an annual event in the North and is watched closely for indications of the direction and priorities Kim may adopt in the year ahead.

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. The tests were the focus of fiery verbal exchanges between the North and U.S. President Donald Trump, who has derisively called Kim, “little rocket man.”