“If war comes make no mistake: the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed,” Nikki Haley said during a UN Security Council meeting that followed North Korea’s latest launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, an action Ms Haley warned “brings us closer to war”.
“We have never sought war with North Korea, and still today we do not seek it. If war does come, it will be because of continued acts of aggression like we witnessed yesterday,” Ms Haley said.
Calling on the international community to deepen the nuclear-armed state’s isolation, Ms Haley urged every country in the world to “cut off all ties with North Korea,” including a total cessation of diplomatic relations. She exhorted other countries to expel North Korean labourers and to unravel their scientific and diplomatic connections.
While the top American diplomat noted that multiple countries have recalled their ambassadors or suspended diplomatic ties in reaction to Pyongyang’s continued aggression, she said North Korea’s third launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile launch in recent months forced a “critical choice for the rest of the world”.
“No one can doubt that this threat is growing,” Ms Haley said of a missile that soared higher than previous tests before crashing into the sea near Japan and prompted North Korea to boast it was now capable of striking the mainland United States.
“Yesterday the North Korean regime made a choice. It chose to feed its nuclear aggression” and to “thumb its nose” at the world, she said.
While the UN has imposed multiple rounds of sanctions in an effort to stymie North Korea’s nuclear program, the nation has proceeded with tests of evermore sophisticated weapons, including intercontinental ballistic missiles and a likely hydrogen bomb. Ms Haley echoed other Security Council members in noting the nation was in “clear violation” of multiple sanctions.
Ms Halley lauded the UN penalties as the “most impactful sanctions that any country has experienced in a generation,” but she warned that North Korea was thwarting new restrictions with the aid of other nations. She noted reports that the North Korean regime continued to smuggle coal into other Asian countries, flouting a ban on exports, and said the country was still “illegally obtaining refined petroleum”.
“There are countries that are continuing to fund the North Korean nuclear program,” Ms Haley warned.
Donald Trump urged a diplomatic solution to North Korean belligerence, saying on Twitter that he and Chinese President Xi Jingping had spoken about “additional major sanctions” in a call during which Mr Trump “emphasized the need for China to use all available levers to convince North Korea to end its provocations,“ according to a White House readout of the call. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggested that new sanctions could target financial institutions.
While Mr Trump and administration officials like Ms Haley have refused to rule out a military strike on North Korea, China has rejected that option and said only diplomacy can quell the crisis on the Korean peninsula. A military clash on the Korean Peninsula would bring armed conflict near China's border.
China's UN representative stressed that line after Ms Haley spoke, calling on “all parties involved to keep restraint” and promoting “dialogue and negotiations” over “conflict and chaos.”
China has rebuked both North Korea and America for escalating tensions. After the latest launch Mr Trump renewed a war of words that has seen him regularly taunt North Korean leadership, calling North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a “sick puppy”.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies