North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has said a nuclear launch button is “always on my table” and has suggested he is “open to dialogue” with South Korea.
In a televised new year speech, he said the entire US was within range of North Korean nuclear weapons, stating: “This is reality, not a threat.”
But he also offered a potential diplomatic opening to South Korea, suggesting he was “open to dialogue”.
North Korea may also send a team to the Winter Olympics in Seoul, he said.
In his speech, the North Korean leader re-emphasised his focus on the weapons programme, but implied the country still has a few stages left to go before achieving its ambitions. North Korea must “mass-produce nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles and speed up their deployment”, he said.
He also said they would not use their weapons unless they felt that peace was threatened.
Future North – South relations?
While his language remained tough on the US he seemed to be less antagonistic and more willing to open up relations between North Koreas neighbours to the South.
“We should melt the frozen North-South relations, thus adorning this meaningful year as a year to be specially recorded in the history of the nation,” he said.
A spokesperson for the South Korean president said their office had “always stated our willingness to talk with North Korea at anytime and anywhere”.
“We hope the two Koreas will sit down and find a solution to lower tensions and establish peace on the Korean peninsula.”