North Korea's nuclear weapons test could spark an arms race among its Asian neighbours which would have consequences for regional stability, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday.
"The truth of the matter is if they continue on the path they are on, I think the consequences for stability in the region are significant," he told a high-level security forum in Singapore.
"I think it poses the potential for some kind of an arms race here in this region.... I think everyone in this room knows that is a bad thing and would have very negative consequences of its own."
Gates warned that the Stalinist North's effort to pursue nuclear weapons capability could provoke other Asian states to take "defensive actions."
However, he said the likelihood of Japan developing its own nuclear weapons "at this point is remote."