By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United States on Wednesday said “all options are on the table” to deal with North Korea and dismissed China’s suggestion of a “dual suspension” of U.S. and South Korea military drills and Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear tests.
“We are not dealing with a rational person,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after the United Nations Security Council discussed North Korea’s launch of four ballistic missiles on Monday.
“It is an unbelievable, irresponsible arrogance that we are seeing coming out of Kim Jong Un at this time,” Haley said.
She said the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump was reevaluating how it would handle North Korea and that “all options were on the table,” adding: “We are making those decisions now and we will act accordingly.”
North Korea fired the missiles into the sea off Japan’s coast in response to the annual U.S.-South Korea military drills, which Pyongyang sees as preparation for war. Pyongyang has fired dozens of missiles and conducted two of its five nuclear tests in the past year in defiance of U.N. resolutions.
In a statement sent to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry warned that it would “reduce the bases of aggression and provocation to ashes with its invincible Hwasong rockets tipped with nuclear warheads and reliably defend the security of the country and its people’s happiness in case the U.S. and the South Korean puppet forces fire even a single bullet at the territory of the DPRK.”
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday that the tests by the North and the joint drills across the border in South Korea were causing tension to increase like two “accelerating trains coming toward each other,” suggesting a “dual suspension” to allow all sides to return to negotiations.
“We have to see some sort of positive action taken by North Korea before we can ever take them seriously,” Haley said when asked about Beijing’s proposal. She said the drills had been held annually for 40 years and North Korea was always notified.
The Security Council on Tuesday strongly condemned North Korea’s missile launches and expressed concern over the country’s “increasingly destabilizing behavior”. North Korea has been under U.N. sanctions aimed at impeding the development of its banned nuclear and missile programs since 2006.
“The most important thing is to implement those Security Council resolutions in a comprehensive way, including reducing tensions and also not to do anything to exacerbate tension on the Korean Peninsula,” China’s U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi said.
French U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre said on Wednesday that France was also working on proposing new European Union “restrictive measures” on North Korea. He did not give details.
North Korea’s Foreign Ministry rejected on Wednesday the Security Council statement as “a brigandish act.”
The U.S. military on Tuesday started to deploy the first elements of its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system to South Korea, which China opposes. Diplomats said China raised the THAAD deployment during Wednesday’s closed-door meeting.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Alistair Bell and James Dalgleish)