The United States has pushed for tougher sanctions on North Korea at the UN Security Council but cautioned it was ready to use force if need be to stop Pyongyang’s nuclear missile program.
In a hard-hitting address at the UN on Wednesday, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said Tuesday’s ICBM test had made “the world a more dangerous place.”
Tuesday’s launch — styled by leader Kim Jong-Un as a gift to “American bastards” — marked a milestone in Pyongyang’s decades-long drive for the capability to threaten the US mainland with a nuclear strike, and poses a stark foreign policy challenge for Donald Trump.
The US president had dismissed the idea of the North possessing a working ICBM, vowing it “won’t happen”, but experts said the missile could reach Alaska or even further towards the continental US.
In her address, Haley called the launch “a clear and sharp military escalation”, and US and South Korean forces fired off missiles Wednesday into the Sea of Japan simulating a precision strike against North Korea’s leadership.
Washington had “considerable military forces”, Haley said. “We will use them if we must.”
But the US focus, she told the council, was to push through tighter sanctions, and it would submit a new draft resolution within days.
In all, six sets of sanctions have been imposed on North Korea since it first tested an atomic device in 2006, but have failed to prevent its military advances.
New measures could target countries that continue to trade with North Korea, curb oil exports to the isolated country, tighten air and maritime restrictions and impose travel bans on its officials.
Haley singled out China as key to any diplomatic solution, only days after Trump said Beijing’s efforts had failed.
“We will work with China,” Haley said, “but we will not repeat the inadequate approaches of the past that have brought us to this dark day.”
The US drive won backing from France, but raised immediate protests from fellow permanent Security Council member Russia, whose Deputy Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov warned that “sanctions will not resolve the issue.”
“The possibility of taking military measures to resolve the problems of the Korean peninsula should be excluded,” he said. “We express our support to the idea of North and South Korea engaging in dialogue and consultations.”
China’s UN ambassador, Liu Jieyi, told the Security Council meeting that the missile launch was a “flagrant
violation” of UN resolutions and “unacceptable.”
“We call on all the parties concerned to exercise restraint, avoid provocative actions and belligerent rhetoric, demonstrate the will for unconditional dialogue and work actively together to defuse the tension,” Liu said.