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Kim Jong Un: Nuclear button is always on his desk

While North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivered a more conciliatory speech during his annual New Year’s Day address, he still warned the United States that the nuclear button is always on his desk, CNN reported.

>> Read more trending news

“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. They should accurately be aware that this is not a threat but a reality,” Kim said. 

Kim also said that North Korea was “a responsible nuclear nation that loves peace,” adding that “we do not intend to use nuclear powers” unless there is aggression directed toward the country.

Kim called on North Korea to accelerate its production of nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles, CNN reported. However, Kim appeared to extend an olive branch toward South Korea, wishing it success in the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. He said the Olympics would be “a good chance” to show the greatness of the Korean people, CNN reported.

Kim also said North Korea could meet with South Korea “as soon as possible” to discuss the possibility of sending a delegation to the games, CNN reported.

Photos: New Year's celebrations around the world

Revelers rang in 2018 at New Year’s celebrations around the world. Here are some snapshots of the festivities. 

Iran restricts social media, issues warning to protesters

Iran restricted access to several social media apps Sunday, including Instagram and Telegram, and warned that anti-government protesters who cause public disorder will “pay the price,” CNN reported.

>> Read more trending news

Instagram and Telegram have been temporarily “restricted” in order to ensure calm and security, state-run media outlet IRIB reported Sunday.

Independent media coverage inside Iran has been limited, but protesters have used apps to share information and post videos of clashes with police and other protests, CNN reported.

Telegram’s CEO tweeted that Iranian authorities had blocked access to Telegram for “the majority of Iranians” after the company refused to shut down peaceful protesting channels, CNN reported.

Earlier Sunday, Iranian Interior Minister Rahmani Fazli issued a stern warning that protesters will “pay the price” after the demonstrations turned deadly. CNN reported. He said the misuse of social networks by some individuals “are causing violence and fear," and that "such behavior will be smashed,” according to IRNA, Iran's official news agency.

The demonstrations, sparked by rising food and gasoline prices in Iran, began Thursday in the northeastern city of Mashhad before spreading to other cities.

South Korea seizes second ship suspected of selling oil to North Korea

South Korea seized a Panamanian-flagged vessel after it was suspected of illegally selling oil to North Korea, CNN reported Sunday.

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It was the second ship seized in what South Korea called an ongoing effort to monitor North Korea’s attempts to circumvent United Nations sanctions. Sunday, officials seized the KOTI, maritime authorities told South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

The ship, which can carry 5,100 metric tons of oil, is docked in the Pyeongtaek-Dangjin port on South Korea's west coast after security officials reportedly decided on Dec. 21 to not allow the vessel to leave the port, CNN reported, citing a local maritime office that spoke to Yonhap.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry said it has launched an investigation into a ship it had seized but did not provide specifics, CNN reported.

“We are closely monitoring North Korea's attempts to evade U.N. sanctions. We are also working closely with relevant countries and ministries for a thorough implementation of the U.N. resolutions. As for the KOTI, an investigation is underway," a South Korean foreign ministry spokeswoman told CNN.

>> Sources: Russian tankers gave North Korea fuel

On Saturday,  Reuters reported that Russian tankers had supplied fuel to North Korea on at least three occasions in recent months by transferring cargoes at sea.

Meghan Markle vows to break these bad habits in her New Year's resolutions

Before she joins the royal family, Meghan Markle has some work to do on becoming more “ladylike,” according to the New Year’s resolutions she makes every year.

>> Royal family goes to church for first Christmas with Meghan Markle

In 2016, the now bride-to-be wrote about her New Year’s resolutions on her blog. Among them are two that she said she has to make “every single year”: “Stop biting my nails. Stop swearing.”

“The swearing comes in lulls triggered by being overworked or feeling mighty cheeky after a couple drinks,” she wrote at the time. “And when it comes to the biting of the nails – well, it still happens with a turbulent flight or a stressful day. It’s unladylike. But then again, so is the swearing."

>> On It looks like Meghan Markle’s father isn’t pleased Prince Harry called the royals the family she never had

With plans to marry Prince Harry, it looks like Markle might actually have to follow through with those resolutions this year. In fact, she’s taking royal etiquette lessons in preparation — with instruction from her fiance, Prince Harry himself.

>> PHOTOS: Meghan Markle through the years

Part of her training will include the politics of curtsying. The actress and bride-to-be will reportedly be expected to curtsy to the queen, her soon-to-be sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Anne, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice (though, if Harry is not in the room, they will be expected to curtsy to her). In addition, she will have to learn how to handle herself at a state dinner, how to properly address dignitaries and royal table etiquette — and we have a feeling nail-biting and swearing won’t be looked upon too kindly in such scenarios.

Markle and the prince are set to tie the knot this May. They announced their engagement at the end of last month.

>> Read more trending news 

“The marriage of His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales and Ms. Meghan Markle will take place at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle in May 2018,” Kensington Palace announced. “Her Majesty The Queen has granted permission for the wedding to take place at the Chapel.”

Must-see: Niagara Falls is a winter wonderland in these stunning photos

A cold wave is sweeping almost all of North America, and as temperatures have dwindled, we’ve seen some pretty bizarre things. But one of the coolest and most beautiful sights right now has to be Niagara Falls, where Jack Frost painted a spectacular scene that looks like something straight out of Narnia.

>> RELATED STORY: Could Niagara Falls completely freeze? 

>> Click here or scroll down for more

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Sources: Russian tankers gave North Korea fuel

Russian tankers have supplied fuel to North Korea on at least three occasions in recent months by transferring cargoes at sea, Reuters reported Saturday.

>> Read more trending news

Reuters, quoting two “senior Western European security sources,” said the transfers are providing an economic lifeline to North Korea. The sale of oil or oil products from Russia are in violation of U.N. sanctions, the sources told Reuters.

The transfers took place in October and November, Reuters reported.

“Russian vessels have made ship-to-ship transfers of petrochemicals to North Korean vessels on several occasions this year in breach of sanctions,” the first security source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

A second source independently confirmed the existence of the Russian ship-to-ship fuel trade with North Korea. This source said there was no evidence of Russian state involvement in the latest transfers.

“There is no evidence that this is backed by the Russian state but these Russian vessels are giving a lifeline to the North Koreans,” the second European security source said.

South Korea seizes vessel, claims it transferred oil to North Korea

South Korea seized a Hong Kong-flagged vessel suspected of transferring oil to North Korea in defiance of international sanctions on Dec. 24, Reuters reported Friday.

>> Read more trending news

The vessel, Lighthouse Winmore, transferred refined petroleum products to a North Korean ship in international waters in late October, a foreign ministry official told Reuters.

The United States proposed blacklisting the Hong Kong-flagged ship to the U.N. Security Council for circumventing sanctions slapped on North Korea for its nuclear and missile programs, documents seen by Reuters this month showed.

In a tweet, President Donald Trump said China was “caught red-handed.”

China denied Friday that it was supplying oil to North Korea, USA Today reported.

Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, said Friday that Beijing has “completely and strictly” complied with the sanctions, The Associated Press reported.

She said that authorities investigated a report that a Chinese ship had transferred oil to a North Korean ship at sea in October and concluded the report was false.

The Lighthouse Winmore departed from the port of Yeosu in South Korea, CNN reported.

“UN Security Council sanctions prohibit the transfer of anything to a North Korean ship,” the official told CNN. "This is one of the main ways in which North Korea uses an illegal network to circumvent UN Security Council sanctions.”

Suicide bomb attack kills 40 in Afghanistan

At least 40 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan’s capital city Thursday, CNN and Reuters reported.

>> Read more trending news

Another 30 people were injured during the attack in Kabul, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told CNN.

The attack happened around 10:30 a.m. local time and targeted a cultural center. The first blast was followed by two more explosions, but those did not cause any injuries, Rahimi said. 

The Taliban denied responsibility for the attack in a statement to the media released by the group’s spokesman, Zabiullah Mojahid.

The bombing also damaged an office of the Afghan Voice news agency, Reuters reported.

The attack occurred during a morning panel discussion on the 38th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Sunni-majority Afghanistan at the Tabian Social and Cultural Center, with many of those attending students, witnesses told Reuters.

Sayed Abbas Hussaini, a journalist at the agency, said there appeared to have been more than one explosion during the attack, following an initial blast at the entrance to the compound housing the two offices. He said one reporter at the agency had been killed and two were wounded.

President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman issued a statement calling the attack an “unpardonable” crime against humanity and pledged to destroy terrorist groups.

“This gruesome attack underscores the dangers faced by Afghan civilians,” rights group Amnesty International said in a statement from its South Asia director, Biraj Patnaik. “In one of the deadliest years on record, journalists and other civilians continue to be ruthlessly targeted by armed groups.”

Rihanna urges end to gun violence after cousin shot to death

Rihanna paid tribute to a slain man she named as her cousin in an Instagram post, calling for an end to gun violence, New Music Express reported Wednesday.

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Sharing a picture of herself with Tavon Kaiseen Alleyne, the singer wrote: “RIP cousin. … can’t believe it was just last night that I held you in my arms! never thought that would be the last time I felt the warmth in your body!!! Love you always man!”

She ended her post with the hashtag “#endgunviolence.”

Nation News in Barbados reported that Alleyne, 21, was fatally shot at 7 p.m. Tuesday at his home in Saint Michael.

According to the report, Alleyne was “walking through a track in the area of his house when he was approached by a man who shot him multiple times before fleeing the scene.”

Police are still investigating the shooting, New Musical Express reported.

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