S. Korea's Moon warns high chance of clashes with North

A North Korean style cold noodle dish served at Koryo Pyongyang. Source Facebook

North Korea on Sunday (May 14) launched what appeared to be its longest-range ballistic missile yet, claiming it was capable of carrying a "heavy nuclear warhead" in a test aimed at bringing the United States mainland within reach.

Harris, head of the United States Pacific Command, based in Hawaii, said North Korea is "closer to being able to deliver a nuclear-equipped missile anywhere in the world" and called for further coordination between the U.S., Japan and South Korea to deal with the threat.

Moon, who was sworn in last week, warned that the North's nuclear and rocket programmes were "advancing rapidly", days after Pyongyang launched what appeared to be its longest-range missile yet.

"The reality is that there is a high possibility of a military conflict at the NLL (Northern Limit Line) and military demarcation line", Moon was quoted as saying by the presidential Blue House.

Left-leaning Moon favours engagement with the North to bring it to the negotiating table, but after Sunday's missile launch said dialogue would be possible "only if Pyongyang changes its behaviour".

Communications were severed by the North a year ago, Lee said, in the wake of new sanctions following North Korea's last nuclear test and Pyongyang's decision to shut down a joint industrial zone operated inside the North.

"Such pressure by use of "sanction resolutions" devoid of legality, morality and impartiality is a blatant infringement on the independence of a sovereign state and act of interference in others' internal affairs", said a senior North Korean diplomat.

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"Our most basic stance is that communication lines between South and North Korea should open", Lee Duk-haeng, a spokesman for the South's unification ministry, told reporters.

The two Koreas - technically still at war after the 1950-53 conflict ended only with a ceasefire instead of a peace treaty - have occasionally clashed along the border.

"We are going to send a very strong, unified message to North Korea", Haley said on Tuesday.

When asked what the USA would do if it was confirmed that North Korea had been behind the major ransomware attack plaguing computer systems across the globe, Haley said: "Sadly, it wouldn't be a surprise".

Speaking to reporters ahead of a closed-door U.N. Security Council meeting, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley also made clear that Washington would only talk to North Korea once it halted its nuclear programme.

Trump has called for an immediate halt to North Korea's missile and nuclear tests and U.S. Disarmament Ambassador Robert Wood said on Tuesday that China's leverage was key and Beijing could do more.

Adm. Harry Harris Jr., who leads U.S. Pacific Command, cautioned against gloating over the fact the North still has work to do to miniaturize a nuclear warhead and ideal re-entry technology.

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