Panamanian vessel probed over suspected oil supplies to N. Korea

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Dressed in a western-style grey suit and tie, Kim added, however, that the North's nuclear arsenal played a purely deterrent role.

That, Kim said, was "irreversible with any force", making it impossible for the United States to start a war against North Korea.

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

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un delivers a New Year's address in Pyongyang on Monday, in this grab from [North] Korean Central Television.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is beginning 2018 by issuing a new wave of threats against USA, touting his natin's ability to deploy nuclear weapons with the push of a button.

Despite the apparent olive branch, Kim also repeated claims that he could hit anywhere in the US with a nuclear weapon, and called for mass production of nuclear warheads.

South Korea's unification ministry said Tuesday it is "carefully" considering the timing of proposing talks with North Korea as the North's leader expressed his willingness to send a delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. In September, the regime carried out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test.

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In an annual New Year's day speech, Kim said that "we sincerely hope the games will be successful".

During the speech, Kim also called for better relations with South Korea - a suggestion he has made more often than he has acted on, the news wire noted.

Daniel Russel, the top US diplomat for East Asia until last April and now at the Asia Society Policy Institute, said there was an argument to be made to encourage North Korea's Olympic participation but that it should not be taken too far. The United Nations Security Council last month approved its strongest sanctions yet on North Korea - a move that Pyongyang described as an "act of war".

Asked about Kim's claim that he has a nuclear button on his desk, and that the weapons can reach the US, Donald Trump said from his New Year's Eve party at Mar-a-Lago: "We'll see, we'll see".

Revere said Kim's speech contained the strongest defense yet of North Korea's status as a permanently nuclear-armed country.

He continued that theme in his New Year's address, announcing that North Korea would focus in 2018 on "mass-producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment". "The games make it possible for Washington and Seoul to meet Pyongyang's demand for self-restraint - adjusting their military exercises - without losing face and appearing weak on Pyongyang".

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