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N Korea eyes possible ICBM launch

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South Korea detected that North Korea is continuing to prepare for a possible interconti­nental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch, a move that would further raise tensions a day after it conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear detonation.

Chang Kyung-soo, acting chief of the defence ministry’s policy planning office, told lawmakers on Monday that North Korea was making preparatio­ns for a missile firing, but didn’t give a timeframe for a potential launch. The yen extended gains against the dollar after the news.

South Korea’s spy agency said there is a chance North Korea could fire an ICBM into the Pacific Ocean, adding that the isolated state was able to conduct a nuclear test at any time, the Yonhap news agency reported. North Korea had threatened last month to launch missiles toward Guam, which prompted warnings of retaliatio­n from American military officials.

South Korea earlier in the day paved the way for the full deployment of a US missile defence system while its military conducted a live-fire drill with North Korea’s test site as the virtual target. The Environmen­t Ministry on Monday conditiona­lly approved an environmen­tal impact report on the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence system.

That removes the final administra­tive hurdle for complete installmen­t of the missile shield, known as Thaad, which China sees as a threat to the region’s “strategic equilibriu­m.” South Korea’s Defence Ministry said it would install the system’s remaining launchers “soon.” The government­s in Seoul and Washington were also discussing deployment of a US carrier group and strategic bombers, Yonhap said.

Following the nuclear test, US President Donald Trump threatened to increase economic sanctions and halt trade with any nation doing business with North Korea -a threat he has used before without following through. That list would include China, the US’s biggest trading partner, which accounted for about a sixth of its overseas commerce.

Asian stocks fell on Monday as investors turned to haven assets, sending the yen, gold and Treasury futures higher. The biggest declines were in Tokyo and Seoul, with more moderate reactions elsewhere in the region.

Trump, who threatened over the weekend to pull out of the US-South Korea trade agreement, took a shot at President Moon Jae-in’s administra­tion after the nuclear test. On Twitter, he said that South Korea is finding that its “talk of appeasemen­t with North Korea will not work.”

In response, Moon’s office said that war shouldn’t be repeated and that South Korea and its allies “will pursue the denucleari­sation of the Korean peninsula through peace.” The two leaders haven’t spoken since North Korea detonated what it called a hydrogen bomb.

Moon took power in May pledging to seek peace talks with Kim’s regime. He initially opposed the early deployment of Thaad, though has shifted in recent months as North Korea advanced its push for an interconti­nental ballistic missile that could strike the US.

The disagreeme­nt between allies comes as Trump’s administra­tion looks to convince China and Russia to support stronger sanctions against North Korea at United Nations Security Council. The US and other nations called for an emergency meeting at 10 am on Monday in New York.

The US ambassador to the United Nations said North Korea was “begging for war” by testing a nuclear weapon over the weekend and demanded the strongest sanctions possible to bring the Kim Jong-Un regime to heel.

“Only the strongest sanctions will enable us to resolve this problem through diplomacy,” Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a meeting of the UN Security Council. She said the US will circulate new draft sanctions measures and wants the council to vote on them September 11.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres "counts on the Security Council to remain united and take appropriat­e action" on North Korea, his political affairs chief, Jeffrey Feltman, said on Monday after Pyongyang conducted its sixth nuclear test. Feltman warned the 15-member Security Council that "as tensions rise, so does the risk of misunderst­anding, miscalcula­tion and escalation."

"The latest serious developmen­ts require a comprehens­ive response in order to break the cycle of provocatio­ns from (North Korea). Such a response must include wise and bold diplomacy to be effective," Feltman told the council.

In a call with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump “reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to defending our homeland, territorie­s, and allies using the full range of diplomatic, convention­al, and nuclear capabiliti­es at our disposal,” the White House said in a statement.

Sunday’s test, North Korea’s first since Trump took office, was a “perfect success” and confirmed the precision and technology of the bomb, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

US President Donald Trump has threatened to increase economic sanctions and halt trade with any nation doing business with North Korea

 ?? PHOTO: REUTERS ?? Kim Jong-un -led ( centre) North Korea could fire an ICBM into the Pacific Ocean as it had threatened to launch missiles toward Guam, which prompted warnings of retaliatio­n from American military officials
PHOTO: REUTERS Kim Jong-un -led ( centre) North Korea could fire an ICBM into the Pacific Ocean as it had threatened to launch missiles toward Guam, which prompted warnings of retaliatio­n from American military officials

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