North Korea nuclear test: Kim Jong-un ‘preparing to launch missile’

North Korea is readying the launch of a ballistic missile, military leaders in South Korea believe after launching rockets in live-fire drills in response to the test of a nuclear bomb at the weekend.

Sunday’s nuclear test by Kim Jong-Un’s regime had an estimated strength of 50 kilotons, defence ministry officials told a parliamentary briefing on Monday as Seoul agreed “it is time to strengthen” a military response against the North.

That would make it five times the size of the North’s previous test in September last year – and more than three times bigger than the US device that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.

South Korea responded to the nuclear test, which the North claimed was of a hydrogen bomb, with live-fire drills off its eastern coast on Monday that were meant to simulate an attack on the North’s main nuclear test site.

Military leaders in the South claim to have seen indications that the North is preparing more missile launches, possibly of an intercontinental ballistic missile, and announced they would deploy more anti-missile defences.

North Korea responded on Monday that its enemies are “hell-bent on escalating confrontation”, as it launched a scathing attack on the “warmongers” in Seoul.

China warned North Korea against proceeding with plans to launch another ballistic missile, saying it should not worsen tensions, but said Donald Trump’s trade threat was “unacceptable”.

Mr Johnson said that North Korea already has the ability to “vaporise” large parts of the population of South Korea even without nuclear weapons.

Stay with us for the latest updates throughout the day amid the ongoing tensions.

Neutral Switzerland is prepared to act as mediator to help resolve the North Korea crisis, including by hosting ministerial talks, Swiss President Doris Leuthard has said.

Leuthard said Swiss troops were deployed on the demarcation zone between South Korea and North Korea and the country had a long history of neutral diplomacy. But China and the United States had to take their share of responsibility, she added.

“We are ready to offer our role… as a mediator,” Leuthard told a news conference. “It is really time now to sit down at a table. Big powers have a responsibility.”

Emerging markets have been shaken by North Korea’s most powerful nuclear test yet, with stocks suffering their steepest loss in more than three weeks while South Korea’s currency plumbed multi-week lows.

The MSCI’s Asia Pacific emerging stock index fell 0.7…

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