US Ambassador Nikki Haley accused North Korea on Tuesday of intimidating the entire international community with its nuclear program, military ability and cyberattacks, and said any country that doesn’t implement UN sanctions is supporting Pyongyang’s actions.
“No one is immune to the threat of North Korea,” she told reporters before emergency closed-door consultations by the UN Security Council on the North’s weekend ballistic missile launch, which experts said demonstrated a significant technological jump with the rocket flying higher and for a longer period of time.
“We’re not going to continue to just say go ahead and test as often as you want,” Haley said, flanked by the South Korean and Japanese ambassadors. “This is a true threat to every country in the world. … We’re going to make sure we put the pressure on them economically, diplomatically, politically and internationally.”
Haley said the US and China have been working on “a unified plan” on how to approach North Korea that would include stronger implementation of existing sanctions and tougher new sanctions.
She indicated Washington and Beijing had agreed they would take action if a new test looked to be long range and leaning toward an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the United States.
The latest launch appeared to fulfill both criteria, Haley said, “so I believe that China will stay true to that, and that we’ll come together on how we’re going to do that.”
The Security Council, which has imposed six rounds of sanctions on the North, discussed possible further action at Tuesday’s meeting. Haley previously indicated that new sanctions could target oil, a critical import for North Korea mainly from China, and she said Tuesday the US also wants sanctions on organizations and businesses in third countries that are helping Pyongyang.
Uruguayan Ambassador Elbio Rosselli, the current council president, said after the meeting that members are united in condemning the latest missile launch as “a serious threat to international peace.” He said the council is exploring many different avenues to proceed and “clearly sanctions are a way to go,” but also diplomacy.
Council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the consultations were private, said China never mentioned working with the US on a new sanctions resolution, and both China and Russia said they support a negotiated solution through dialogue.
Haley was asked about comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing on Monday who called North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests “unacceptable” but also said the United States should stop intimidating Pyongyang.
“We need to return to dialogue with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, stop intimidating it and find ways to solve these problems peacefully,” Putin was quoted as saying, using North Korea’s official name. “Is it possible or not? I think it is possible.”
Haley answered Putin and others who have made similar comments about the United States: “What about North Korea intimidating us? They’re intimidating the entire international community. They’re trying to strengthen their muscle with no cause. There is no reason for North Korea to be having these actions outside of the fact they just choose to do so.”
Haley noted that this weekend’s missile came within 60 miles of Russia’s border and said Russia is “all wrong.”
“It is actually North Korea trying to intimidate the international community,” Haley said, “and Russia itself should be concerned because that ballistic missile test was a signal to South Korea for their new elections, it was a signal to Russia in how close it got, it was a signal to Japan being in the region, and it was a signal to us.”
The US ambassador said Russia has the same decision to make as the rest of the international community: “You either support North Korea or you don’t, but you have to choose. You have to pick a side.”
She said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is “paranoid” and thinks that the United States is trying to promote regime change and that there are people trying to assassinate him.
“We’re not trying to do any of those things,” she said. “What we are saying is that for peace on the Korean peninsula, he has to stop his testing. He has to stop any nuclear programs that he has. The US, we are willing to talk but not until we see a total stop of the nuclear process and any tests there.”
Haley said the Security Council is going to send a strong and unified message to North Korea that “the international community wants to support you but as long as you test, and as long as you continue your nuclear program, you are on an island by yourself.”