South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myong-gyon offered on Tuesday high-ranking government talks with North Korea next week at the border village of Panmunjom, a day after Pyongyang suggested talks despite sticking to its nuclear ambitions.
But in a rare move the dictator tempered his bellicose rhetoric with the suggestion he may send a North Korean delegation to the Winter Olympics when they are held in South Korea.
Whether or not Kim Jong-un has a physical button to authorize launch or not, it remains the case that North Korea's nuclear weapons continue to see highly centralized and assertive command and control. Relations between the Koreas have plunged as North Korea has expanded its weapons programs amid a hard-line stance by Moon's conservative predecessors.
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, with their son Barron, arrive for a New Year's Eve party at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. December 31, 2017.
Lest anyone think the isolated dictator has gone soft, however, Kim also used the speech to brag that North Korea is now capable of hitting the entire US mainland with its nuclear weapons and to warn that "the nuclear button is always on the desk of my office" should the USA dare to attack them.
Talks could provide a temporary thaw in strained inter-Korean ties, but conservative critics worry that they may only earn the North time to ideal its nuclear weapons.
After reiterating that his country had "completed" its nuclear deterrent against the United States - a fact that its state media proclaimed following the successful flight-test of the Hwasong-15 intercontinental-range ballistic missile on November 29 - Kim added that he had a "nuclear button" physically installed on his desk in his office.
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"We know about the political tensions on the Korean Peninsula", Bach said in a statement.
"This year we should focus on mass producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment", Kim added.
"Kim Jong Un's strategy remains the same".
He said the North and South could meet urgently to discuss the North sending a delegation. "The US can never start a war against me and our country".
The PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games were scheduled to be held in February in South Korea's namesake county of PyeongChang in the eastern Gangwon province.
His remarks come after both the USA and the United Nations slapped repeated rounds of sanctions against the state in response to Pyongyang's aggressive weapons testing.