(CNN) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, during his national New Year’s address, warned the United States that the nuclear button is always on his desk.
“The entire mainland of the US is within the range of our nuclear weapons and the nuclear button is always on the desk of my office. They should accurately be aware that this is not a threat but a reality,” he said, according to a CNN translation of his speech.
He also declared that his country is “a responsible nuclear nation that loves peace” and told his citizens that “the US cannot wage a war” against it.
“As long as there’s no aggression against us, we do not intend to use nuclear powers,” Kim added.
Tension has been rising between the United States and North Korea in recent months. Adm. Mike Mullen, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday that the United States is “closer to a nuclear war with North Korea” than ever.
In an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Mullen warned that President Donald Trump’s provocative rhetoric aimed at Kim Jong Un likely indicates he would prefer to take a more aggressive approach to countering the rogue regime’s rapidly evolving nuclear weapons program.
Last week, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted new sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s November 29 ballistic missile test, seeking to further strangle its energy supplies and tighten restrictions on smuggling and the use of North Korean workers overseas.
North Korea’s state-run news agency KCNA released a report Saturday promising that the country would remain committed to its nuclear development in 2018.
“Do not expect any change in its policy,” the report read.
“Its entity as an invincible power can neither be undermined nor be stamped out. The DPRK, as a responsible nuclear weapons state, will lead the trend of history to the only road of independence and justice, weathering all tempests on this planet,” the report continued, referring to North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.