Kim Jong Un: Nuclear button is always on his desk

South Korean President Moon Jae-in presides over the national security council at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, November 29, 2017.

Should the talks be held on January 9, it would be the first such dialogue since a vice-ministerial meeting in December 2015. Kim Jong-un, while acknowledging the "unprecedented" level of sanctions the country had endured in 2017, said that North Korea would have to improve its "ability to be self-reliant".

"The government will have to strive more to come up with a countermeasure not to get caught in a trap set by Kim Jong Un".

North Korea could send a delegation to the South for the 2018 Winter Olympics, in the first indication Pyongyang may participate in next month's Games despite tensions over its nuclear weapons programme. Analysts say Kim may be trying to drive a wedge between Seoul and its ally Washington as a way to ease global isolation and sanctions against North Korea.

Moon's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The ship can carry 5,100 tons of oil and has a crew mostly from China and Myanmar, it was reported, adding that South Korea's intelligence and customs officials are conducting a joint probe into the vessel.

Mullen, who chaired the Joint Chiefs from 2007 to 2011, said President Donald Trump has succeeded in getting China to take a more active role in trying to restrain North Korea's nuclear activities.

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He said the North and South could meet urgently to discuss the North sending a delegation.

'The Winter Olympic games that will be held soon in the South will be a good opportunity to display the status of the Korean nation and we sincerely wish that the event will be held with good results, ' he said.

But Mullen also said that Trump has disrupted long-held views of the USA role in the world, and that America's enemies benefit from that uncertainty.

"The entire mainland of the USA is within the range of our nuclear weapons and the nuclear button is always on the desk of my office".

South Korean Unification Minster Cho Myoung-gyon says the South proposes the two Koreas meet January 9 at the border village of Panmunjom to discuss Olympic cooperation and how to improve overall ties.

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.


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