North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said in his new year's address today: "We are willing to take necessary measures including to dispatch our delegation" to the Pyeongchang Games which Seoul and organisers have billed as a "peace Olympics". The North sees the regular war drills between the South and the United States as preparations for war.
"The whole territory of the U.S.is within the range of our nuclear strike and a nuclear button is always on the desk of my office and this is just a reality, not a threat", he said, while emphasising that the weapons would only be used if North Korea was threatened.
Two North Korean athletes - pairs figures skaters - have qualified for the Games but missed the October 30 deadline to confirm to the International Skating Union that they would participate.
Presidential office spokesperson Park Soo-hyun was speaking after Pyongyang's state-run TV channel aired Kim's New Year address on Monday.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un makes a speech at 5th Conference of Cell Chairpersons of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) on December 23 in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang December 24, 2017.More news: Deputies 'injured' after being called to suburban Denver incident
"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".
The president vowed to destroy North Korea if the country continued to threaten the US, speaking during his maiden speech at the United Nations earlier this year. He appeared open to the prospect of sending a North Korean delegation to the upcoming Winter Olympics, which will be hosted by South Korea at Pyeongchang in February 2018.
As tensions spiked in the region in recent months, the worldwide community has slapped a range of sanctions on the North aimed at curbing its weapons programme and squeezing the country's leadership.
Mullen, who chaired the Joint Chiefs from 2007 to 2011, said President Donald Trump has succeeded in getting China to take a more active role in trying to restrain North Korea's nuclear activities. 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.
'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.