Senior Trump administration officials fear a nuclear arms race in Asia-Pacific if an increasingly belligerent North Korea is not reined in, Australia's foreign minister said Friday after talks in New York.
Pyongyang has launched a series of missiles this year, including a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range projectile this month which the North claimed was capable of carrying a "heavy" nuclear warhead, fuelling tensions with Washington.
It has carried out two atomic tests since the beginning of last year, insisting it needs nuclear weapons to defend itself against the threat of invasion.
The US is worried that if North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is not stopped, other countries in the region including Japan and South Korea would be compelled to seek their own nuclear capability as a defence measure.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told The Australian newspaper this was conveyed to her in New York, where she held meetings with the US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.
"In my discussions with senior officials in both South Korea and the US, the view was that should North Korea ever be recognised as a nuclear weapons state, then Japan and (South) Korea would have little option than to develop their own nuclear weapons capability," she said.
"That is why there is such a strong view that North Korea must be denied this capability."
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