U.S. calls on all nations to completely sever ties with North Korea

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said the latest missile test is edging the world closer to war.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Wednesday urged all countries to sever economic and diplomatic ties with North Korea, and warned Pyongyang that the regime will be "utterly destroyed" if a standoff over missile tests leads to war. 

Speaking at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss North Korea's latest missile launch, Haley said Pyongyang had brought the world closer to war with its latest test of a ballistic missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland, its most advanced yet. 

"We have never sought war with North Korea, and still today we do not seek it," she said. "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." 

The Security Council meeting requested by the United States, Japan and South Korea came on a day when most countries rushed to condemn Tuesday's launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile but struggled to agree on an appropriate response. 

Leaders in Washington and Pyongyang delivered statements intended to jab at the other. In North Korea, a government statement said leader Kim Jong Un "declared with pride" that the country has achieved its goal of becoming a "rocket power." 

President Donald Trump responded with both a stern warning that "additional major sanctions" were coming in response and, later in the day, another dose of derision. At a campaign-style rally in St. Charles, Missouri, Trump turned a scripted line about tax cuts being rocket fuel for the economy to an impromptu dig at Kim. "Little rocket man," he called Kim, and after pausing, Trump doubled down by saying, "He is a sick puppy." 

Much of the day's effort went to enlisting the help of other countries to take tougher actions with North Korea. 

Trump spoke by telephone with Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose country is an economic lifeline for North Korea. As he has before, Trump urged the Chinese leader to apply more pressure on Pyongyang. And in a tweet after the call, Trump said more punitive sanctions were around the corner. 

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters that a "long list" of potential U.S. sanctions was being considered, including targeting financial institutions that do business with the country. 

But at the Security Council, the talk was of existing sanctions and the need for more countries to enforce them. 

Haley said it is possible to "further isolate, diminish, and, God willing, reverse the dangerous course of the North Korean regime," and called on all nations to "cut off all ties with North Korea." 

"In addition to fully implementing all U.N. sanctions, all countries should sever diplomatic relations with North Korea and limit military, scientific, technical, or commercial cooperation," she said. "They must also cut off trade with the regime by stopping all imports and exports, and expel all North Korean workers." 

She also singled out China, saying it was time for Beijing to cut off the oil supply to North Korea. 

But while the ambassadors of both China and Russia, which have veto power as permanent members of the Security Council, condemned the missile launch, they urged less bellicosity. 

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said North Korea should stop its missile and nuclear tests, and the United States should cancel military drills scheduled for next month so as not to inflame tensions. 

"We strongly call on all concerned parties to stop this spiral of tension," Nebenzia said. "It is essential to take a step back and weigh the consequences of each move." 

Haley's focus on activities outside the Security Council underscored how few new diplomatic options are left to tap. An already formidable set of sanctions has been adopted and proven ineffective. 

The Security Council has passed eight major sanctions resolutions on North Korea since 2006 trying to pressure North Korea to negotiate and eventually abandon its nuclear arsenal. The Trump administration has mounted a "maximum pressure" campaign to lobby other countries to do more — cut off or scale back diplomatic relations with Pyongyang, stop using North Korean laborers whose salaries go directly to their government and enforce existing U.N. sanctions on the country. 

The pressure campaign has had some success. More than 20 countries have expelled North Korean diplomats or downgraded relations. China has curbed its exports of North Korean coal, a chief source of hard currency. 

But there have been setbacks. As a U.N. panel noted in September, Pyongyang has expanded into new moneymaking ventures in Africa and the Middle East. 

And even some European allies whose own capitals are within striking range consider the threat to themselves secondary, amid other security and foreign policy challenges bearing down on them. 

China has been supportive but only to a degree. It has backed sanctions, but it remains North Korea's main trading partner and has been unwilling to take any drastic measures that might undermine the stability of the regime in Pyongyang or change its strategic calculations. 

There are signs that China may be tiring of the American approach. 

In an editorial in its Chinese-language edition issued Wednesday, the nationalist Global Times newspaper said this week's test was a sign that past U.S. policy toward North Korea had failed and that the approach tried under Trump had also been unsuccessful. 

The United States, it said, "despised Pyongyang" and as a result had ignored North Korea's security concerns and missed an opportunity to negotiate an end to the nuclear program — instead increasing pressure, raising tensions and narrowing the space for diplomacy since Trump took office. 

China's deputy U.N. ambassador told the Security Council that Beijing will implement sanctions but urged more restraint. 

Wu Haitao lamented that diplomacy had accomplished so little during the window of opportunity over the past two months in which North Korea launched no missiles. "Regrettably," Wu said, "this window failed to lead to a resumption of dialogue and negotiations."

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Politics

Russia investigation: Special counsel Mueller subpoenas Trump Organization
Russia investigation: Special counsel Mueller subpoenas Trump Organization

  Special counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed the Trump Organization for documents as part of his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its possible ties to President Donald Trump and his associates, according to multiple reports. The subpoena is the first directly connected to one of Trump’s businesses...
Trump News Today: President to visit next weekend
Trump News Today: President to visit next weekend

President Trump is likely to visit Mar-a-Lago on Friday, March 23, through Sunday, March 25  according to an advisory issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. The "VIP Movement Notification" was issued this morning. There will be temporary flight restrictions in the West Palm Beach area during his stay.  The exact time of...
Secretary of state, CIA director nominees face probable backlash in Senate
Secretary of state, CIA director nominees face probable backlash in Senate

The confirmation of President Donald Trump's picks for secretary of state and CIA director is likely to be hampered but not stymied by a mostly partisan backlash to their records in the administration and the decision that led to their nominations - the termination of Rex Tillerson for being one of the few Cabinet members, Democrats argued Tuesday...
We looked at almost 100 leaders who tried Xi Jinping-style power grabs. Here’s how they turned out.
We looked at almost 100 leaders who tried Xi Jinping-style power grabs. Here’s how they turned out.

Xi Jinping plays the long game.  The 64-year-old Chinese president is only half finished with what should have been a 10-year term, but he's already tossed term limits aside, and with them the rules and norms that have governed China's leadership since 1982.  The National People's Congress made it official last weekend, passing a set of constitutional...
Facebook, Twitter, Google CEOs face calls to testify to Congress
Facebook, Twitter, Google CEOs face calls to testify to Congress

Social media giants that have acknowledged Russians exploited their platforms ahead of the 2016 election face renewed bipartisan demands to explain to Congress what they're doing to counter abuse of their networks ahead of this year's congressional midterms.  Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee...
More Stories