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Poll: South Koreans doubt North Korea will start war

SEOUL/WASHINGTON: South Koreans are increasingly doubtful that North Korea will start a war, a survey released Sept 8 showed. It came just days after its largest nuclear test and as US president Donald Trump again highlighted the possibility of military action.

Tension on the Korean peninsula has escalated as North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un stepped up the development of weapons in defiance of UN sanctions and international pressure, testing a string of missiles this year and conducting its sixth nuclear test on Sunday.

Experts believe the isolated regime is close to its goal of developing a powerful nuclear weapon capable of reaching the US mainland, something Mr Trump has vowed to prevent.

Still, a Gallup Korea survey showed South Koreans are less concerned about war now as compared to in June 2007, nine months after North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in September 2006.

The recent survey found that 58 per cent of respondents felt there was no possibility North Korea would cause a war, while 37 per cent thought it would.

In 2007, 51 per cent of respondents said they expected a war, while 45 per cent did not.

Mr Trump has repeatedly said all options are on the table in dealing with North Korea, including a military one.

He said on Thursday he would prefer not to use military action, but if he did, it would be a "very sad day" for North Korea.

"Military action would certainly be an option. Is it inevitable? Nothing is inevitable," said Mr Trump.

However, senior members of his administration have made clear that the door to a diplomatic solution is still open. - REUTERS

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