Kim Jong-un has halted his warmongering rhetoric in recent days, instead going on a charm offensive by sending his athletes to compete alongside their southern counterparts in the Winter Olympics under a unified Korean flag.
But senior military officials believe his nuclear ambitions will only continue as he attempts to unify Korea under communist rule.
Admiral Harry Harris, chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, told a hearing that Kim is not simply looking to turn his state into a nuclear superpower to safeguard his nation against outward threats.
He claimed the young tyrant is really “after reunification under a single, communist system,” – and that combining the two states under the flag of communism is his “long view” goal.
He added the west must continue its “maximum pressure” campaign to force Kim into disarming his nuclear arsenal and dismantling his intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The hermit kingdom has recently come out of its shell to participate in the Pyeongchang games, which have included high profile visits from the Supreme Leader’s sister Kim Yo-jong and the North Korean cheerleading squad.
And during the games the South’s leader Moon Jae-in welcomed an invitation to talks in Pyongyang, offered by Kim Jong-un himself.
However some experts believe the agreements between the sides are simply the calm before the storm.
Chris Hill, the former US ambassador to South Korea, told NBC he does not expect Kim to end his race for nuclear supremacy.
He said: “There’ll be a positive feeling that we’ve somehow turned the corner and are heading to a solution
“I don’t think by any means North Korea is prepared to denuclearize at this point.”
“I think what North Korea is trying to achieve with this opening of dialogue with the South is as if to say, ‘Look we have nuclear weapons, we’re not going to get rid of nuclear weapons, but we are prepared to be very good neighbour’.
“It’s an effort to present a sense of normalcy to their country, the fact that they are somehow, in their view, a member of the international community in good standing.”