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U.S. cautious in commenting on N.K. leader's New Year's Day speech

All News 10:16 January 02, 2018

SEOUL, Jan. 2 (Yonhap) -- The United States has not said much about North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's New Year's Day address, in which he gave a nuclear warning against it but also a conciliatory gesture toward South Korea, a U.S. broadcaster reported Tuesday.

In the address, Kim warned, "The United States should properly know that 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."

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un delivers his New Year's Day address via the North's Korean Central TV Station on Jan. 1, 2018. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

"We are in close contact with the ROK (South Korea) about our unified response to North Korea," Voice of America quoted a State Department official as saying when asked to comment on the address.

On Seoul's welcoming response to Kim's remark that he would consider sending a delegation to the Winter Olympic Games to be held in the South Korean alpine town of PyeongChang next month, the official, asking not to be named, said, "We are confident in the South Korean government's commitment to hosting a safe and successful Olympic Winter Games."

The official also expressed thanks for South Korea's seizure of two foreign vessels suspected of transferring oil products to North Korea at sea in violation of the U.N. sanctions, the broadcaster said.

Pertinent to U.N. Resolutions 2375 and 2397, the South seized the Hong Kong-flagged Lighthouse Winmore on Nov. 24 and Panama-flagged KOTI on Dec. 21, both for allegedly making ship-to-ship transactions of petroleum products with the North. They are still under probe at South Korean ports.

"We are grateful for the ROK's continued efforts to fully enforce U.N. Resolutions and take action against violations of UN sanctions," the official said.

The Resolution 2375, adopted in September, bans member countries from ship-to-ship transfers of any goods for North Korea. Resolution 2397, adopted just a week earlier, allows a country to capture and look into a vessel suspected of engaging in prohibited activities with North Korea.

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