North Korea has fired several rockets into the sea, in a continuation of its rapid nuclear and missile expansion, prompting South Korea to press ahead with military drills involving US troops that have angered Pyongyang.
A nuclear expert who has repeatedly visited North Korea’s nuclear facilities said he doubted the country was yet capable of attacking Guam with medium to long-range missiles, saying escalating rhetoric from both the North and the US was the real danger.
Donald Trump has threatened North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” after suggestions the reclusive communist state has cleared a final hurdle to being able to strike the United States with a nuclear missile.
North Korea’s deputy United Nations ambassador has accused the United States of turning the Korean Peninsula into “the world’s biggest hotspot” and creating “a dangerous situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment”.
The dismal start to trading in the new year showed no sign of abating as global markets tumbled after oil prices slumped to fresh 11-year lows.
London’s FTSE 100 Index dived 1.6% into the red, down 95 points at 6042.2, with indices across Europe also sharply lower as Brent crude dropped below 35 US dollars a barrel at one stage.
Sentiment had already been impacted by amid renewed worries over China after a poor report on the country’s services sector, while investors were also unnerved after North Korea claimed to have successfully carried out a hydrogen bomb test - its fourth since 2006.