Panamanian vessel probed over suspected oil supplies to N. Korea

North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, has warned the United States his country's nuclear forces are now "completed", adding that the nuclear launch button was always within easy reach, The Guardian writes.

On Monday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un delivered his 2018 New Year's Day address, as he has done every year since 2013. "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".

Asked to comment on Kim's speech, U.S. President Donald Trump said: "We'll see, we'll see", as he walked into a New Year's Eve celebration at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Kim also indicated an interest in sending a delegation to participate in the Winter Olympics, which its southern neighbor is scheduled to host in February, according to the report. Adm. Mike Mullen, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday that the United States is "closer to a nuclear war with North Korea" than ever.

In an annual New Year's day speech, Kim said that "we sincerely hope the games will be successful".

The move is largely symbolic as trade and financial exchanges between the two Koreas have been barred since May 2010 following the torpedoing of a South Korean warship, which the North denied.

Kim Jong Un also says expanding his arsenal is now a priority. Kim said he is willing to send a North Korean delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and added both Koreas "could urgently meet" to discuss the matter.

Tensions with the South have been high as Kim has presided over a dramatic increase in the pace of North Korea's weapons program.

Ship-to-ship trade with North Korea at sea is prohibited under United Nations sanctions adopted September 11.

Despite the apparent olive branch, Kim also repeated claims that he could hit anywhere in the US with a nuclear weapon, and called for mass production of nuclear warheads.

North Korea hasn't immediately reacted.

The war games included attacks against a mock North Korean missile launch site with mock North Korean radars.

Revere said Kim's speech contained the strongest defense yet of North Korea's status as a permanently nuclear-armed country.

But he reiterated his demand that the South Korean government stop holding joint military exercises with the USA and stop bringing in US weapons.

  • Rogelio Becker