Kim Jong-un: North Korea's nuclear arsenal is now complete

President Moon Jae-in called for swift measures to realize North Korea's participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games here on Tuesday, one day after the reclusive North Korean leader hinted at a resumption of inter-Korean dialogue to the end. "I hope that North Korea will also participate, which will provide a very good opportunity for inter-Korean peace and reconciliation", Moon said in November 2017, during North Korea's two-month-long pause in ballistic missile testing.

Should the talks be held on January 9, it would be the first such dialogue since a vice-ministerial meeting in December 2015.

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - South Korean authorities have seized a Panama-flagged oil tanker suspected of evading worldwide sanctions by trading with North Korea, officials said Sunday. 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".

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

His comments come after a former top USA military officer warned that the United States is now closer than it has ever been to a nuclear war with the North, with little hope of a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

"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".

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This week's exchanges follow a year dominated by fiery threats form Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump who vowed to destroy North Korea if threatened, even as U.S. diplomats pushed for a diplomatic solution. However, Kim appeared to extend an olive branch toward South Korea, wishing it success in the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. 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.

Kim said in a New Year's Day speech on Monday he would consider sending a delegation to the Olympics. After the Olympics, inter-Korean ties could become frosty again because North Korea has made it clear that it has no intention of accepting worldwide calls for nuclear disarmament and instead wants to bolster its weapons arsenal in the face of what it calls increasing USA threats.

Possible inter-Korean talks could provide a temporary thaw in strained inter-Korean ties, but could also weaken USA -led worldwide pressure on the North.

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  • Ryan Wade