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North Korea sanctions

US again warns North Korea of military action as UN exhausts options

Military options available to Trump range from a sea blockade to cruise missile strikes on nuclear and missile facilities

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 September, 2017, 11:56am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 September, 2017, 11:56am

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the UN Security Council has run out of options on containing North Korea’s nuclear programme and the United States may have to turn the matter over to the Pentagon.

“We have pretty much exhausted all the things that we can do at the Security Council at this point,” Haley told CNN’s State of the Union, adding that she was perfectly happy to hand the North Korea problem over to Defence Secretary James Mattis.

As world leaders head to the United Nations headquarters in New York for the annual General Assembly meeting this week, Haley’s comments indicated the United States was not backing down from its threat of military action against North Korea.

North Korea launched a missile over Japan into the Pacific Ocean on Thursday in defiance of new UN Security Council sanctions banning its textile exports and capping imports of crude oil.

China has urged the United States to refrain from making threats to North Korea. Asked about US President Donald Trump’s warning last month that the North Korean threat to the United States will be met with “fire and fury,” Haley said, “It was not an empty threat.”

“If North Korea keeps on with this reckless behaviour, if the United States has to defend itself or defend its allies in any way, North Korea will be destroyed. And we all know that. And none of us want that. None of us want war,” she said on CNN.

“We’re trying every other possibility that we have, but there’s a whole lot of military options on the table,” she said.

Pyongyang has launched dozens of missiles as it accelerates a weapons programme designed to provide the ability to target the United States with a powerful, nuclear-tipped missile.

North Korea said on Saturday it aimed to reach an “equilibrium” of military force with the United States.

Trump plans to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

“I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night. Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad!” Trump said in a Twitter post on Sunday morning.

White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster said on Friday, after the latest North Korean missile launch, that the United States was running out of patience: “We’ve been kicking the can down the road, and we’re out of road.”

On Sunday, he warned of imminent danger from Pyongyang.

“This regime is so close now to threatening the United States and others with a nuclear weapon, that we really have to move with a great sense of urgency on sanctions, on diplomacy and preparing, if necessary, a military option,” McMaster told the Fox News Sunday programme.

Watch: ‘military option’ exists for North Korea

Military options available to Trump range from a sea blockade aimed at enforcing sanctions to cruise missile strikes on nuclear and missile facilities to a broader campaign aimed at overthrowing leader Kim Jong-un.

Mattis has warned the consequences of any military action would be “tragic on an unbelievable scale” and bring severe risk to US ally South Korea.