Singapore, May 30 (ANI): Visiting US Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned North Korea today that Washington would not accept it as a nuclear weapons state and would consider any transfer of nuclear material to other countries or terrorist groups a "grave threat" to the United States and its allies.
"We will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in the region - or on us," the New York Times quoted Gates as telling a security conference here.
Gate's warning came after North Korea's tested a nuclear device and fired at least six short-range missiles, all in defiance of international sanctions, this week.
North Korea, Gates said, had a choice: "To continue as a destitute, international pariah, or chart a new course."
Gates was addressing the annual conference as an emissary of President Obama for the first time.
Military officials traveling with Gates said the tough talk was aimed at increasing worldwide pressure on North Korea as well as reassuring allies in the region, particularly Japan and South Korea, that the United States was committed to their defense should North Korea make good on talk of war this week. On Wednesday, North Korea threatened military strikes against the South.
The officials acknowledged that the United States had only limited information about what was really happening inside North Korea.
Although North Korea was the "hot topic" at the conference, as Gates put it to reporters on his plane en route to Singapore, he also used the forum to appeal to Asian allies for help, both financial and military, with the war in Afghanistan.
Failure in Afghanistan, Gates said, "would have international reverberations - and, undoubtedly, many of them would be felt in this part of the world." (ANI)