1 December, 2017, 12:00 am
UNITED NATIONS/SEOUL – The United States warned the North Korean leadership that it would be “utterly destroyed” if war were to break out, after Pyongyang test fired its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile, putting the US mainland within range.
The Trump administration has repeatedly said all options were on the table in dealing with North Korea’s ballistic and nuclear weapons program, including military ones, but that it still prefers a diplomatic option. Still, speaking at an emergency UN Security Council meeting, US ambassador Nikki Haley warned:
“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 … And if war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed.”
Ms Haley said the United States has asked China to cut off oil supply to North Korea, a drastic step that Beijing —the North’s sole major trading partner — has so far refrained from doing. Mr Trump spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier on Wednesday and said more sanctions on Pyongyang would be enforced.
“Just spoke to President Xi Jinping of China concerning the provocative actions of North Korea. Additional major sanctions will be imposed on North Korea today. This situation will be handled!” Mr Trump wrote on Twitter.
Previous US administrations have failed to stop North Korea from developing nuclear weapons and a sophisticated missile program. Mr Trump has also struggled to contain Pyongyang since he came to office in January.
Urging China to use its leverage on Pyongyang and promising more sanctions against North Korea are two strategies that have borne little fruit so far.