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US calls for UN to take strong action against North Korea

South Korea set to work with US to deploy aircraft carriers and strategic bombers

UNITED NATIONS The United States has urged the United Nations to take the "strongest possible measures" against Pyongyang after its latest nuclear test, with its UN envoy saying that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has shown through his actions that he is "begging for war".

The envoy, Ms Nikki Haley, said at a UN Security Council meeting yesterday to discuss a response to the nuclear test: "War is never something the United States wants. We don't want it now, but our country's patience is not unlimited."

NEW RESOLUTION

She added that the US will circulate a new Security Council resolution on North Korea this week, and wants a vote on Monday, The Straits Times reported.

The test has rattled stock markets and driven gold prices to their highest in nearly a year, amid fears of more provocations.

While the price of gold, a safe haven asset, rose 0.7 per cent to US$1,334.77 (S$1,810.15) an ounce, the strongest in more than 11 months, stock prices were hit worldwide.

Earlier, South Korea said it was talking to the United States about deploying aircraft carriers and strategic bombers to the Korean Peninsula after signs the North might launch more missiles after its largest nuclear test.

"We have continued to see signs of possibly more ballistic missile launches. We forecast North Korea could fire an intercontinental ballistic missile," Jang Kyoung Soo, acting deputy minister of national defence, told Parliament yesterday.

South Korea's air force and army conducted exercises involving air-to-surface and ballistic missiles yesterday, its Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

In addition, South Korea will cooperate with the US and seek to deploy "strategic assets like aircraft carriers and strategic bombers", Mr Jang said.

South Korea's Defence Ministry also said it would deploy the four remaining launchers of a new US missile defence system after the completion of an environmental assessment.

On Sunday, North Korea said it tested an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile, prompting a US warning of a "massive" military response .

"We are not looking to the total annihilation of a country," US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said. "But as I said, we have many options to do so."

Asked about US President Donald Trump's threat to punish countries that trade with North Korea, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China has dedicated itself to resolving the issue via talks. - REUTERS

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Few options to rein in Pyongyang

WASHINGTON Despite the US warning of a "massive military response" to any threat from North Korea, the Trump administration has few good options to force it to rein in its nuclear and missile programmes.

Its best hope may be to expand its economic sanctions against the North, hoping this might finally force its leader Kim Jong Un to show restraint.

North Korea's latest nuclear test does not seem to have altered the US equation, though it may have toughened rhetoric.

US President Donald Trump had tweeted earlier that "(North Koreans) only understand one thing" - presumably force.

But force has its limits.

"There are no realistic military options in terms of striking North Korea, because doing so would likely spark a full-scale war," Mr Mark Fitzpatrick, executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies - Americas, said.

Instead, the US can increase its military pressure on Pyongyang. Mr Fitzpatrick said viable options include deploying more assets, and noted South Korea is considering redeploying US tactical nuclear weapons.

As for further sanctions, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he would propose a series of tough economic sanctions aimed at any country doing business with the North.

He said he wanted to work with US allies and with China, which buys 90 per cent of all North Korean exports.

The next step from the UN could be a full or partial petroleum embargo. - AFP

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