New York (July 6, 2017): United States ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday called North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile launch test a “clear and sharp military escalation” and said that US military action remained on the table.
She also warned China and other countries supporting North Korea that the US could halt trade with them if they do not stop aiding the Pyongyang regime.
“The US is prepared to use the full range of our capabilities to defend ourselves and our allies,” Haley said. “One of our capabilities lies with our considerable military forces. We will use them if we must, but we prefer not to have to go in that direction.”
Haley said “the world is on notice” at a UN Security Council meeting on North Korea’s first ICBM launch, calling for an “escalated diplomatic and economic response” and warning countries not to water down resolutions against Pyongyang.
“There are countries that are allowing, even encouraging, trade with North Korea in violation of UN Security Council resolutions,” Haley said. “Such countries would also like to continue their trade arrangements with the United States. That’s not going to happen.”
Haley called out China specifically, noting that 90% of North Korea’s trade is with China.
“Much of the burden of enforcing UN sanctions rests with China,” she said. “We will work with China … but we will not repeat the inadequate approaches of the past that have brought us to this dark day.”
On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump tweeted, “Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter. So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!”
Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter. So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 5, 2017
Wednesday’s UN Security Council meeting came in response to North Korea’s first ICBM test, which US officials assess was a new kind of missile that had a range of about 5,500 kilometers (3,400 miles), capable of hitting Alaska.
Haley’s warnings did not appear to convince Russia or China, however, who are pushing their own plan for North Korea to stop testing ballistic missiles while the US and South Korea stop joint training exercises, known as a “freeze for freeze” proposal to get North Korea back to the negotiating table.
Russian Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Vladimir Safronkov also disputed whether the test was in fact an ICBM — the range is right on the 5,500 kilometer line that’s the minimum for an ICBM — and said sanctions are not the solution.
“Sanctions cannot be a political cure-all,” Safronkov added.
Chinese Ambassador to the UN Liu Jieyi, who is president of the Security Council, did not address the question of sanctions at the meeting. He criticized North Korea for launching an ICBM but also was critical of the US and South Korea for deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile defense system, or THAAD, in South Korea.
Liu said the THAAD deployment “seriously undermines the strategic security interests” of China and was “not conducive” to de-nuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.