In his New Year's Day speech on Monday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un touted his country as a nuclear power which possesses the technological capability of striking the US mainland.
"The US mainland is in our nuclear strike range. The United States will never start a war with me and our country," he said, adding that Pyongyang has "completed the creation of North Korea's nuclear forces."
Kim also emphasized that "the nuclear button is always on my desk," which he said is "not blackmail but reality."
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un says his country has developed the capability to hit all of US mainland with its nuclear weapons, and that the "nuclear launch button" is on his desk. https://t.co/PjCVa7xQx4 Comment: https://t.co/bWEdyeSFvt pic.twitter.com/Bn5qSkJ3AB— BlakeNordstrom1 (@BlakeNordstrom1) 1 января 2018 г.
Meanwhile, Retired Admiral Mike Mullen, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has warned that Washington and Pyongyang are now closer than ever to a nuclear war.
"We're actually closer in my view to a nuclear war with North Korea and in that region than we've ever been. I don't see the opportunities how to solve this diplomatically at this particular point," Mullen told ABC News.
The tensions around North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons program persist due to the repeated nuclear tests and missile launches carried out by Pyongyang in violation of the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.
As a response measure, the UNSC has introduced a spate of sanctions against Pyongyang aimed at hampering the development of the North Korean nuclear weapons program.