kim jong un address
North Korea leader KIm Jong Un said North Korea must mass produce nuclear weapons in his New Year's Day speech on Jan.1, 2018. Above, a man watches a television news screen showing a picture of Kim Jong-Un delivering a statement in Pyongyang, at a railway station in Seoul on September 22, 2017. Getty Images/AFP/Jung Yeon-Je

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in his New Year’s Day address Monday, called on the country to mass produce nuclear weapons and said the U.S. would not be able to start a war against the country as it had developed the capability to hit all of the U.S. mainland with its nuclear weapons.

"The entire mainland of the US is within the range of our nuclear weapons and the nuclear button is always on the desk of my office. They should accurately be aware that this is not a threat but a reality," he said according to a translation of his speech on North Korean state television by CNN.

Kim Jong Un declared that North Korea did not “intend to use nuclear powers” as long as there was no aggression directed towards it and called his country "a responsible nuclear nation that loves peace.”

North Korea would focus on “mass producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment” in the coming year, he added.

Pyongyang drew severe criticism from the international community with its continuous nuclear and missile tests, leading to sanctions by the United Nations. The country conducted six nuclear tests in all, beginning in 2006. On 3 September 2017, North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test, detonating what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb. The United States Geological Survey registered a 6.3 magnitude earthquake in the vicinity of the test site. The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) cited initial U.S. intelligence assessments saying the test released 140 kilotons of TNT equivalent, making it larger in explosive yield than the previous five tests combined.

The country is believed to have anywhere between 25 and 60 nuclear weapons according to analysis from independent experts cited by Newsweek. Meanwhile, independent experts estimated it had enough uranium to produce six new nuclear bombs a year, Al Jazeera reported. It is also thought to possess a nuclear warhead that can be fitted onto an intercontinental ballistic missile or ICBM.

Apart from nuclear tests, it has conducted a record number of 15 missile tests in 2017 and claims to have an ICBM—called Hwasong-14—that could reach the mainland U.S. It is already thought to have several medium-range missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to South Korea or Japan.. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, Pyongyang is thought to have as many of 1,000 missiles of varying ranges

Al Jazeera reported that Siegfried Hecker of Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC, estimated in September 2016 that North Korea had enough highly enriched uranium to make six additional nuclear bombs a year after touring North Korea's main Yongbyon nuclear facility in 2010. It is also believed to have biological weapons like anthrax and other nerve agents.

In Monday’s speech Kim Jong Un declared his nuclear force complete and called on South Korea to respond to overtures from the North instead of encouraging measures by the U.S. that “threaten the security and peace of the Korean peninsula,” Reuters reported.