By Kate KellandPublished Feb 08, 2018 07:55:04US President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw American troops from South Korea and cut off trade ties with its neighbour, which is facing a growing number of nuclear and missile tests.
Key points:US President Trump has told the US Senate to pass a new defence spending bill to boost military spendingThe White House says it is still trying to figure out how to handle North KoreaNorth Korea has conducted its fifth nuclear test and the country has said it will test another missile in the coming daysThe United States has deployed a missile defense system in South Korea, but North Korea has vowed to launch another missile on the same day.
The White Houses press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said Trump was not aware of the planned launch, and would “make a decision when we see it”.
Trump and other leaders have made clear they do not want to see another North Korean nuclear test.US officials said it would be unusual for North Korea to conduct a nuclear test without warning.
The United Nations Security Council had urged Pyongyang to stop its nuclear and ballistic missile tests, saying its actions “raise serious questions about its nuclear capabilities and international commitments”.
“It is time for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to act,” a statement from the council read.
North Korea’s nuclear test last week raised alarm in the international community, with China and Russia accusing Pyongyang of failing to live up to its commitments to disarm and denuclearise the country.
But the White House has stressed the US was not looking to attack North Korea and said the US would work closely with its allies to prevent a military confrontation.US Vice-President Mike Pence has called for calm on the Korean Peninsula.
Trump told lawmakers in Washington the US “will not stand idly by” while North Korea continued its nuclear program.
“We will not stand by as North Korea continues to threaten and threaten and threatens with a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile that could reach the continental United States,” Trump said.
“It will be up to the North Korean regime to decide what path it chooses.”
“We’re going to be watching the situation closely.
But we will not be responding to that threat.”
North Korea said it was conducting its fifth and most powerful nuclear test this week, after testing a nuclear device in January.
The latest test was seen as a further sign of the country’s progress towards developing nuclear weapons.
North Korean leader North Korean state media said the hydrogen bomb had been successfully detonated.US President-elect Donald Trump and Vice-president Mike Pence attend a news conference at Trump Tower in New York on Tuesday.US military leaders say they are ready to take further action in response to North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, if necessary.
North and South Korea have been locked in a standoff over a long range missile, the KN-08, that North Korea claims it has developed and tested.US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has been touring the region, with a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Seoul on Tuesday afternoon.
“The US is prepared to deploy an aircraft carrier, multiple ground attack capabilities, air and missile defense, and other capabilities, including cyber, if North Korea threatens the United States with a preemptive strike,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.
A US navy strike group in the Pacific will also be dispatched to the Korean peninsula, the spokesman said.
North Koreans have said they would continue their missile tests as long as they were protected by US troops.
A group of US servicemen, sailors and Marines are seen near a ship on a South Korean island in this still image taken from video released by North Korea on February 15, 2018.
The US military says it will send up to 2,000 troops to South Korea next week in a move to bolster defences after Pyongyang test-fired a missile and vowed to continue its nuclear weapons program.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Washington was taking a “reckless approach” in responding to North Korean threats, and that Pyongyang should consider the “highest-level sanctions” against its leaders.
South Korea’s defence ministry said on Tuesday that a guided missile, carrying a nuclear warhead, had successfully landed on the island of Yeonpyeong near the border with North Korea.US Defence Secretary Jim Mattison said Washington would take further measures if necessary to counter the North’s nuclear and ICBM tests.
“If North Korea does not act to denuclearize its nuclear programme, we will take further steps to deter and defeat North Korea,” he said.US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has warned that any escalation of tensions with North Korean leadership would trigger “the kind of military confrontation that is no longer a viable option”.
North Korea says its nuclear test was a “success”.
Its state media has also carried commentary saying it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb and said it could conduct another in the future.US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said on Wednesday that the US had a “robust” relationship with South Korea.
“North Korea is a threat that the