North Korea’s Kim Jong-un issues threats and olive branch

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PV International Desk : North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has said a nuclear launch button is “always on my table” and warned the US it will never be able to start a war.

In a televised new year speech, he said the entire US was within range of North Korean nuclear weapons, adding: “This is reality, not a threat.” But he also offered a potential olive branch to South Korea, suggesting he was “open to dialogue”.

Kim struck a generally defiant note after a year of rising tensions marked by the North’s multiple missile launches and its sixth and most powerful nuclear test — purportedly of a hydrogen bomb.

“We must mass-produce nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles and speed up their deployment,” he said in his annual televised address to the nation.

He reiterated his claim that his country had achieved its goal of becoming a nuclear state but insisted the expansion of the weapons programme was a defensive measure.

“We should always keep readiness to take immediate nuclear counter-attacks against the enemy’s scheme for a nuclear war.”

The North claims it needs nuclear weapons to protect itself from a hostile Washington and has striven to create a warhead capable of targeting the US mainland with an atomic warhead.