[PyeongChang 2018] S. Korea 'carefully' mulling timing of offering talks with NK

Casey Dawson
January 2, 2018

"In this New Year's address, North Korea seems to have taken great pains with the image portrayed by Kim Jong Un", said an analysis by the state-run Korea Institute for National Unification after Kim's speech.

Pyongyang dramatically ramped up its efforts to become a nuclear power in 2017, despite a raft of global sanctions and increasingly bellicose rhetoric from the United States.

"We define this "sanctions resolution" rigged up by the USA and its followers as a grave infringement upon the sovereignty of our republic, as an act of war violating peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and the region, and categorically reject the 'resolution, '" the statement released by the state-controlled Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) read.

Kim also said that North Korea was "a responsible nuclear nation that loves peace", adding that "we do not intend to use nuclear powers" unless there is aggression directed toward the country.

After welcoming Kim's address, South Korean President Moon Jae-in had asked his government earlier in the day to move as quickly as possible to bring North Korea to the Olympics.

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The New Year's address is an annual event in the North and is watched closely for indications of the direction and priorities Kim may adopt in the year ahead.

"The nuclear button is always on my table. This is not blackmail but reality".

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Retired Adm. Mike Mullen on Sunday warned the U.S.is closer to a nuclear war with North Korea than ever before.

"We're actually closer, in my view, to a nuclear war with North Korea and in that region than we have ever been", he said.

But he also hinted at diplomatic overtures to South Korea amid increasingly crippling sanctions.

Choi met North Korea's sports official Mun Woong in China on December 18 on the sidelines of a worldwide youth football tournament where North and South Korea soccer teams competed, the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper reported.

The United States has also proposed that the United Nations Security Council blacklist 10 ships for transporting banned items from North Korea, according to documents seen on Tuesday.

Analysts say Kim may be trying to drive a wedge between Seoul and its ally Washington as a way to ease worldwide isolation and sanctions against North Korea.

But the embargoes have shown little sign of dampening Kim's enthusiasm for his weapons drive.

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