US President Donald Trump on Tuesday warned Kim Jong-Un that he possessed a nuclear button that is “much bigger & more powerful” than that of the North Korean leader.
He tweeted: “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018
Trump’s message came after Kim used his annual New Year address to warn he has a “nuclear button” on his table, but sweetened his remarks by expressing an interest in dialogue and taking part in the Pyeongchang Games next month.
South Korea responded positively Tuesday, proposing high-level talks with Pyongyang on January 9.
But US envoy to the United Nations Nikki Haley dismissed the proposed dialogue between the Koreas as a “band-aid,” warning that Washington would never accept a nuclear-armed Pyongyang.
Kim said in his address that North Korea would mass-produce nuclear warheads and missiles, suggesting he would continue to accelerate a rogue weapons program that has stoked international tensions.
He reiterated his claims that North Korea had achieved its goal of becoming a nuclear state but insisted its expansion of the weapons program was a defensive measure.
Pyongyang dramatically ramped up its efforts to become a nuclear power in 2017, despite a raft of international sanctions and increasingly bellicose rhetoric from the United States.
Kim said the North “can cope with any kind of nuclear threats from the US and has a strong nuclear deterrence that is able to prevent the US from playing with fire,” Kim said Monday.
“The nuclear button is always on my table. The US must realize this is not blackmail but reality,” he said during the speech. “The entire area of the US mainland is within our nuclear strike range. … The United States can never start a war against me and our country.”
Pyongyang sees American military activities in the region — such as the joint drills it holds with the South — as a precursor to invasion.
It has rattled the international community by testing increasingly longer-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) throughout 2017.
But any military intervention by the US could escalate rapidly into a catastrophic conflict that would threaten the lives of millions.
Mike Mullen, a former chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, said this week that the US is now closer than it has ever been to a nuclear war with North Korea.
“I don’t see the opportunities to solve this diplomatically at this particular point,” he said.