Kim Jong-un welcomed the dawning of year 107 on the North Korean calendar with the stark warning that he will not be pressured into surrendering his nuclear weapons and long-range missiles – but also offered an olive branch to South Korea.
The dual messaging chimes with what analysts believe is a strategy to develop an advanced nuclear capability before entering any negotiations about the future of atomic weapons on the Korean peninsula.
So while he claimed to have a nuclear button on his desk he also said the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics offered an opportunity for better relations with South Korea.
“We are willing to take various steps, including the dispatch of the delegation,” he said.
“To this end, the two Koreas can immediately meet”.
The offer was tempered by the North Korean dictator’s insistence that he has no intention of scaling back the production and deployment of nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles.
“We should always keep readiness to take immediate nuclear counter-attacks against the enemy’s scheme for a nuclear war,” Yonhap news quoted Mr Kim as saying. “The US should be aware that the North’s nuclear forces is reality, not a threat.”
The proposal for talks with Seoul was nevertheless largely unexpected, given that Pyongyang has studiously ignored every approach by Moon Jae-in’s administration since he was sworn in as South Korean president in May.
But analysts point out that the offer is more of a calculated effort to drive a wedge between Mr Moon’s liberal government in Seoul and Washington’s hardline approach to North Korea under President Donald Trump.
“I do not believe this is an olive branch at all”, said Rah Jong-yil, a former diplomat and head of South Korean intelligence.
“If talks do go ahead, then I expect North Korea to demand that joint US-South Korean military exercises that are scheduled to take place at the same time as the Winter Games be delayed or even cancelled entirely.”
The South Korean people – desperate for a peaceful solution to a situation that has overshadowed their lives since the Korean War broke out in 1950 – are likely to support that request, he added. Washington, however, is unlikely to want to be seen as making security concessions to the North for nothing in return.
“North Korea has nothing to lose with this offer of talks”, said Mr Rah, and is in a position to make itself into the aggrieved party – a nation looking to participate in a peaceful global event but unable to do so because it feels threatened.
In truth, Mr Rah said, the last thing that Mr Kim wants is peace. “North Korea cannot survive peace”, he said.
“The regime in Pyongyang can only continue to survive on stresses and confrontation with its neighbours. Peace would bring Mr Kim down.
“In that sense, President Trump is very good for the North”, he added. “All the threats to attack North Korea simply reinforce Mr Kim’s message to the people that the US wants to destroy them and, consequently, his control over them”.
The reclusive state’s rapid advances in the field of nuclear weapons were celebrated as the New Year rolled in, with ice sculptures in the shape of its newest intercontinental ballistic missile displayed in the capital Pyongyang.
The regime conducted its sixth nuclear test in September and has also demonstrated it has developed ICBMs.
Hours earlier, Mike Mullen, a retired admiral who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned that the US was closer to war with North Korea than ever before.
Article Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/01/kim-jong-un-warns-us-north-koreas-nuclear-weapons-now-reality/