Tension has been rising over North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes, which it pursues in defiance of years of U.N. Security Council resolutions, with bellicose rhetoric coming from both Pyongyang and the White House.
"The entire mainland of the U.S.is within the range of our nuclear weapons and the nuclear button is always on the desk of my office". That year, the Supreme People's Assembly promulgated an ordinance on North Korea's position as a "nuclear weapons state".
South Korea's presidential office welcomed Kim's olive branch, saying that Seoul is open to talks with the North "at any time, in any place and in any format".
Mullen said that the future rests in large part on the actions of China, which has traditionally been North Korea's closest ally and has been asked by President Donald Trump to increase pressure on the rogue regime.
"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.
Who are Ri Pyong-chol and Kim Jong-sik?
Cho told a media conference he expects the two Koreas to focus on bringing a North Korean delegation to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, which begin next month, should the talks be held on January 9.
But he also hinted at diplomatic overtures to South Korea amid increasingly crippling sanctions.
Mullen's warning comes as tensions continue to increase between North Korea and the worldwide community.
The revelation comes days after South Korea said it was holding a Hong Kong-flagged ship and crew members over transferring petroleum products to a North Korean vessel in worldwide waters in October.
Ship-to-ship trade with North Korea at sea is prohibited under United Nations sanctions adopted September 11.
Despite the apparent olive branch, Kim also repeated claims that he could hit anywhere in the US with a nuclear weapon, and called for mass production of nuclear warheads.
Possible inter-Korean talks could provide a temporary thaw in strained inter-Korean ties, but could also weaken USA -led worldwide pressure on the North.
Previous year was also notable for a war of words between Kim and Trump, who repeatedly threatened military action to stop the rogue state's nuclear program.
The New Year's address is an annual event in North Korea and is watched closely for indications of the direction and priorities Kim may adopt in the year ahead.