Published: Tue, January 02, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Korean Leader Kim Says Nuclear Launch Button On His Desk

Korean Leader Kim Says Nuclear Launch Button On His Desk

"The whole territory of the U.S.is within the range of our nuclear strike and a nuclear button is always on the desk of my office and this is just a reality, not a threat", he said, while emphasising that the weapons would only be used if North Korea was threatened.

The offer landed after a New Year's Day speech by Kim who said he was "open to dialogue" with Seoul, and for North Korean athletes to possibly take part in the Winter Games, but he persistently declared North Korea a nuclear power.

"This year we should focus on mass producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment", Kim said. "These weapons will be used only if our security is threatened".

North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test in September in defiance of global warnings and sanctions, raising fears of a new conflict on the Korean peninsula.

South Korean President Moon Jae In proposed postponing the annual war games until the Olympic and Paralympic games are over, in order to defuse geopolitical tensions and improve ties with the North which sees the joint drills as a rehearsal for war.

Cho told a media conference he expects the two Koreas to focus on bringing a North Korean delegation to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, which begin next month, should the talks be held on January 9.

North Korea may demand a price for its participation in the Winter Olympics next month, a South Korean think tank said Monday.

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South Korean president Moon Jae-In last month proposed delaying Seoul's annual joint military exercises with the USA until after the Games.

"I regret the government had even lost the flexibility to spend one day or two taking a deep breath and meticulously analysing Kim Jong Un's ulterior motive before hastily issuing a welcoming statement", he said.

Dressed in a Western-style gray suit and tie, Kim said North Korea had been successful in "completing" its nuclear arsenal, complete with a nuclear button on his desk.

John Delury, a professor of worldwide relations at Yonsei University in Seoul, said Kim's message to Seoul was "more promising" than he had anticipated, addressing in a specific and actionable way South Korea's desire to make the Games a success.

"An improvement in inter-Korean relations may not go a separate way from (efforts) to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, so I ask the foreign ministry to closely consult with our allies and the global community so that we may push for an improvement in inter-Korean relationship and the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue at the same time", he said.

Two North Korean athletes - pairs figures skaters - have qualified for the Games but missed the October 30 deadline to confirm to the International Skating Union that they would participate. "It also shows resolving North Korea's nuclear issue has a bigger priority (than improving inter-Korean relations)". We are waiting for North Korea's reply. "I think a slowdown (in testing) is very realistic, though". More important than scrutinizing North Korea's motivations is having the confidence to bring about a change in North Korea's attitude and to take advantage of that change.

"As we move into the spring, Pyongyang will once again test all different types of missiles and weapons", he said.

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