Washington: US President Donald Trump, responding to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un saying he had a nuclear button on his desk, said in a tweet on Tuesday that his nuclear button "is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!"
In a televised speech on Monday, Kim said "the entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, and a nuclear button is always on my desk. This is reality, not a threat."
Trump has since claimed that efforts to pressure North Korea are having a "big impact" as South Korea proposed holding talks with Pyongyang on January 9, a move that may ease tensions over the country's nuclear program ahead of the winter Olympic games.
Kim offered to open talks with Seoul in a New Year's Day address, one of the most promising peace overtures since Trump took office.
Earlier, Trump tweeted that Kim's proposal reflects his administration's campaign to increase sanctions against North Korea and threats to use military action to dismantle the regime's nuclear weapons program.
"Sanctions and 'other' pressures are beginning to have a big impact on North Korea. Soldiers are dangerously fleeing to South Korea. Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time. Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not - we will see!" Trump wrote.
Trump administration officials sidestepped questions about how they squared South Korea's willingness to meet with the US position that Kim must first demonstrate a readiness to pause, if not abandon, his efforts to build a nuclear arsenal that can hit the U.S. mainland.
"We are very skeptical of Kim Jong Un's sincerity in sitting down and having talks," State Department spokesman Heather Nauert told reporters in Washington. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said "our policy hasn't changed at all."