Kim, wearing a Western-style grey suit and tie, said in his customary annual address his country had achieved the historic feat of "completing" its nuclear forces and added he has a nuclear button on his desk. He said North Korea's nuclear deterrent was "irreversible" and that it would prevent Trump from starting a war. "The entire area of the US mainland is within our nuclear strike range".
In recent months, North Korea conducted its most powerful nuclear test to date and flight-tested intercontinental ballistic missiles three times, raising concerns that it's closer than ever to gaining a military arsenal that can viably target the mainland United States.
"We're actually closer in my view to a nuclear with North Korea and in that region than we've ever been and I just don't see how, I don't see the opportunities to solve this diplomatically at this particular point", Mullen said on ABC News' This Week.
Last week, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted new sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang's November 29 ballistic missile test, seeking to further strangle its energy supplies and tighten restrictions on smuggling and the use of North Korean workers overseas.
But far from persuading Kim to give up his nuclear drive, analysts say Trump's tough talk may have prompted the North Korean leader to drive through with his unsafe quest.
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.
Frigid Weather Forecast for New Year's Eve Across Illinois
A Wind Chill Advisory is also in effect from 10 p.m. this evening through noon Monday for all of the Four State region. Wind chills could make it feel as cold as minus-7 degrees.
Mullen's warning comes as tensions continue to increase between North Korea and the worldwide community.
South Korean authorities have seized a Panama-flagged vessel suspected of transferring oil products to North Korea in violation of global sanctions, a customs official said Sunday.
In early December, the U.S. began another round of military exercises with South Korea, flying in F-22 fighter jets and other military aircraft.
Analysts say Kim may be trying to drive a wedge between Seoul and its ally Washington as a way to ease worldwide isolation and sanctions against North Korea. After the Olympics, inter-Korean ties could become frosty again because North Korea has made it clear that it has no intention of accepting global calls for nuclear disarmament and instead wants to bolster its weapons arsenal in the face of what it calls increasing US threats. The U.S. "should accurately be aware that this is not a threat but a reality".
In his New Year's address, Kim again denounced the exercises.