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North Korea is preparing more missile launches, the South has said as the world remains on alert after Pyongyang’s biggest nuclear test explosion yet.
Military sources in South Korea said the secretive state could possibly be readying itself to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Tensions are growing worldwide after the North claimed it had carried out a hydrogen bomb test at the weekend which caused a 6.3 magnitude earthquake.
The firing follows several ballistic missile tests by Pyongyang over the past months, defying UN sanctions and pressure from other countries to stop developing its weapons programme.
North Korea fired its first intercontinental ballistic missile in July, adding that it now has the capability to target anywhere in the world.
The neighbouring South responded to the weekend’s alleged H-bomb with a mock attack on the North’s nuclear site as rockets were launched from fighter jets and ballistic missiles fired from the ground.
The South Korean government’s joint chiefs of staff said more military drills are being prepared with US forces.
US President Donald Trump threatened to halt all trade with countries doing business with Kim Jong-Un’s nation, adding the state “continued to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States”.
Asked if the US will attack North Korea, President Trump replied: “We’ll see.”
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said threats to the United States and its allies “will be met with a massive military response”.
Mr Mattis spoke at the White House following a meeting with the president and national security advisers. He said any response will be “both effective and overwhelming”.
He the United States is “not looking to the total annihilation” of North Korea, but added “we have many options to do so”.
The UN Security Council is set to meet later today to discuss fresh sanctions against Pyongyang.
The exact strength of the explosion is not yet known, although South Korea’s weather agency said the artificial earthquake caused by the explosion was five to six times stronger than tremors generated by the North’s previous five such tests
Mr Trump warned last month that the US military was “locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely” and that the US would unleash “fire and fury” on the North if it continued to threaten America.
The words followed threats from North Korea to launch ballistic missiles towards the US Pacific territory of Guam, intending to create “enveloping fire” near the military hub that is home to US bombers.
The North’s latest test was carried out at 12.29pm local time at the Punggye-ri site where it has conducted past nuclear tests.
North Korea’s state-run television broadcast a special bulletin to announce the test and said leader Kim Jong Un attended a meeting of the ruling party’s presidium and signed the go-ahead order.
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