North Korea: Trump is 'begging for nuclear war'

In Washington, meanwhile, an influential Republican lawmaker joined National Security Advisor HR McMaster in warning that time is running out on diplomatic efforts to rein in North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

A 2.5-magnitude quake has been detected in North Korea near where the country recently conducted a nuclear test, Seoul's weather agency said. On Wednesday, 29 November, the North fired the long-range missile which flew about 950kms and touched an altitude of 4,475kms during the almost hour-long flight before hitting the sea waters off the Japan coast.

North Korea on Sunday blasted the United States and South Korea as "warmongers" on the eve of their largest-ever joint air exercise, saying it could trigger a nuclear war.

Imagery released on Thursday of North Korea's latest missile test showed new rocket engines and a larger design that likely puts Kim Jong Un closer to his goal of being able to deliver a nuclear warhead to a target anywhere in the world, though without great accuracy yet, analysts said.

The potential for war is increasing every day but armed conflict is not the only solution, he told a defence forum.

About 28,500 USA troops are stationed in South Korea to deter potential aggression from the North.

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"If there's an underground nuclear test, then you need to get ready for a very serious response by the United States", Mr Graham said.

Representatives of the 15 member states of the council held emergency meetings earlier this year following an escalating war of words between the U.S. and North Korea. The United States has 28,500 troops in South Korea as a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.

"We're asking China not to do us or anybody else a favor", he said.

But the national security adviser said Kim was extremely unlikely to change his behavior "without some significant new actions in the form of much more severe sanctions" and "complete enforcement of the sanctions that are in place".

With one month of its two-year UN Security Council term remaining, Japan took up the rotating presidency on Friday ahead of a series of meetings to discuss the situation in North Korea. "We're asking China to act in China's interest, as they should, and we believe increasingly that it's in China's urgent interest to do more".

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