U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates tells a major security conference in Singapore that the United States will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state.
SOUNDBITE: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, saying (English):
"The policy of the United States has not changed. Our goal is complete and verifiable -- denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and we will not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapon state. We will not stand idly by, as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in the region or on us."
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates pulled no punches as he outlined U.S. policy towards nuclear North Korea on Saturday.
Speaking at an Asian summit in Singapore, Gates warned Pyongyang against transferring nuclear technology abroad.
He said he did not think North Korea was a direct military threat to the U.S.
And that the next step in negating Pyongyang ambitions would be political and not military.
Reaching out to other regional powers, Gates met with ministers from Japan and South Korea, in a move to reassure countries in the region that the Obama administration was committed to supporting its allies.
South Korea is on high alert after the hardline communist state threatened military action against it, following Seoul's decision to join a U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative under which North Korean ships could be stopped and searched.
South Korean defence minister Lee Sang Hee urged the UN security council to take firm action:
SOUNDBITE: South Korean Defence Minister Lee Sang Hee, saying, (English):
"We ask for your active support as United Nation's Security Council and the international community take proper measures against North Korea's wrong doings so that it could give up its nuclear developments and return to the six party talk frame, as soon as possible."
In the space of one week, North Korea has detonated a nuclear device and launched a series of missiles.
It's widely feared it could have plans for a new long-range missile test, that could trigger an arms race in Asia.
Two nations that normally defend the North -- China and Russia -- have criticised its actions, joining a host of others including Japan.
North Korea has meanwhile vowed to defend itself, if it is in any way punished for the latest nuclear test.
Sarah Barden, Reuters.