“The U.S. should know that the button for nuclear weapons is on my table,” he said during the speech, as provisionally translated by the AP. “The entire area of the U.S. mainland is within our nuclear strike range. … The United States can never start a war against me and our country.”

Kim Jong Un also called for improved relations with the South, an idea mentioned in speeches quite often. He said the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics would be a good opportunity to showcase the status of the Korean nation.

Winter Olympics

He said the North and South could meet urgently to discuss the North sending an Olympic delegation.

“The Winter Olympic games that will be held soon in the South will be a good opportunity to display the status of the Korean nation and we sincerely wish that the event will be held with good results,” he said.

South Korea’s presidential office says it welcomes the proposal to hold talks between government officials over the issue of North Korea sending a delegation to the Olympics. The office of President Moon Jae-in says the successful hosting of the Pyeongchang Olympics will contribute to peace and harmony not only on the Korean Peninsula and northeast Asia, but in the entire world.

The New Year’s address is an annual event in the North and is watched closely for indications of the direction and priorities Kim Jong Un may adopt in the year ahead.

Nuclear Tensions and Sanctions

This year’s speech was seen as particularly important because of the high tensions over Pyongyang’s frequent missile launches and nuclear test in 2017. The tests were the focus of fiery verbal exchanges between the North and U.S. President Donald Trump, which earned Kim Jong Un the Trumping nickname, “little rocket man.”

Kim also stressed North Korea’s economic achievements during the speech, and noted the importance of improving the nation’s standard of living. However, such improvements are unlikely under current and proposed future sanctions.

Recent accusations have been made against both China and Russia for violating sanctions. Both have denied the violations, despite satellite images released as “proof.” North Korea, internatonal intrigue and the potential for war will continue to loom large in 2018.