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."
She added that the US will circulate a new Security Council resolution on North Korea this week, and wants a vote on Monday.
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. South Korean stocks fell 1.2 per cent, while Singapore shares lost 1.4 per cent, their lowest in almost two months.
Yesterday, South Korea's intelligence agency said the North may fire another intercontinental ballistic missile to mark upcoming anniversaries on Saturday and Oct 10.
On Sunday, Pyongyang claimed to have run a "perfect" test of a hydrogen bomb that can be mounted onto an ICBM capable of striking the US mainland, its sixth nuclear test since 2006 and the most powerful yet. It tested two ICBMs in July, and sent an intermediate-range missile over Japan last week.
US President Donald Trump said the US is considering stopping all trade with "any country doing business with" North Korea - a move obviously targeting China, the North's ally and main economic lifeline.
But China has protested, with its Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang calling the move "neither objective nor fair".
Seoul, criticised by Mr Trump on Sunday for "talk of appeasement" over the North, took a series of actions against the latest nuclear test.
South Korea's Defence Ministry said yesterday it would complete deploying a US missile shield, installing the remaining four launchers of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence at its base in Seongju.
President Moon Jae In and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed in a phone conversation to seek stronger UN sanctions against the North. Mr Moon, set to discuss the North Korea issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin tomorrow, stressed the need for stern measures against Pyongyang until it can "feel the pressure", said the presidential Blue House.
South Korea's air force and army yesterday conducted exercises that involved ballistic and long-range air-to-surface missiles in the east coast. More drills are in the pipeline, said the Defence Ministry.
Defence Minister Song Young Moo told Parliament that "views converged on strengthening the military stand-off" during a national security meeting on Sunday, as calls grew for Mr Moon to harden his stance against the North.
South Korea and the US are in talks to mobilise more US military assets in a show of force.
Local reports said they are also discussing plans to station more US assets in South Korea on a rotational or longer-term basis.
Political commentator David Lee told The Straits Times it is key for South Korea to strengthen its military alliance with the US. "But in case the alliance is broken, we also need to have backup survival plans, like developing our own nuclear weapons or forging alliances with other countries."
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