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"This year we should focus on mass producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment", Kim said. Adds background, byline and photos. He also suggested the North is considering sending a team to the Winter Olympics the South is set to host in February.

North Korea tested intercontinental ballistic missiles and conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test in September in defiance of global warnings and sanctions, raising fears of a new conflict on the Korean peninsula.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said he was always within reach of the nuclear button in a defiant New Year message today after months of escalating tensions over his country's weapons programme.

Kim was speaking in his annual New Year's Day address.

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The leader also said that the North is open to talks with South Korea to discuss its participation in the games. The official transcript of his address was expected to be released shortly. "The U.S. can never start a war against myself and our nation now".

"The Winter Games to be held in South Korea will be a good occasion for the country". Trump referred to Kim's weight in one tweet, prompting the North Korean leader to call the US president a "dotard" and warning of the "highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history".

Kim also stressed North Korea's economic achievements during the speech, and noted the importance of improving the nation's standard of living.

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