About the Author
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
The Trump administration is considering all options to respond to North Korea’s ongoing missile and nuclear tests, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Wednesday.
Haley made the comments at a press conference following a closed-door emergency meeting of the UN Security Council (UNSC) in the wake of the North’s latest test launch of four Scud-ER missiles on Monday morning.
Three landed within Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), with the missiles flying 1,000 kilometers before splashing down within Japan’s EEZ, some 250 km west of the Akita Prefecture.
“This is not something we can take lightly. The global community needs to understand that every country is in danger from the actions of North Korea, and every country needs to respond to the actions of North Korea,” Haley told media.
The U.S. ambassador to the UN said “all the options are on the table now” when asked about how Trump administration – which recently pulled out of a high-level meeting on sanctions in Seoul amid a policy review – would change its approach to the North.
“We are stepping back and, since these multiple launches, [we are] re-evaluating what the U.S.’s approach is going to be. I can tell you we are ‘not ruling anything out’ and we are considering ‘every option’ that is on the table,” she said.
Citing the North’s two nuclear tests last year and its alleged assassination of Kim Jong Nam with chemical weapons in Malaysia last month – as well as several other recent incidents – Haley said the DPRK was “trying to get attention” and wanted “to cause a reaction”.
“It is an unbelievable, irresponsible arrogance that we are seeing coming out of Kim Jong Un at this time.”
The U.S. ambassador to the UN also described Kim Jong Un as “not a rational person.”
“I appreciate all of my counterparts wanting to talk about talks and negotiations. We are not dealing with a rational person,” Haley said. “If this was any other country, we would be talking about that, and it wouldn’t be an issue. This is not a rational person, who has not had rational acts, who is not thinking clearly.”
Cho Thae-yul, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea (ROK) to the UN, also argued it was not the time for Seoul to talk about “freeze and dialogue.”
“All kinds of options have been exhausted so far,” Cho told reporters. “The only available means to change North Korean behavior fundamentally is to continue to keep up the pressure and sanctions on North Korea.”
Cho also warned Pyongyang that continued provocative behavior would “accelerate its path toward self-destruction.”
“Perhaps the leadership in Pyongyang might have believed that these continued provocations may help enhance his bargaining leverage vis-à-vis the international community as a whole, but [Kim Jong Un] was simply wrong,” the South’s ambassador to the UN said.
“I am quite confident that the North Korean leader will painfully realize what a great and serious miscalculation he has made and he will soon pay the price for what he did in defiance of the concerted warnings by the international community.”
G2, THAAD, NORTH KOREA
The U.S. ambassador to the UN opened her statement defending the legitimacy of the U.S.-ROK joint military exercise, in an apparent response to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s recent suggestion at the Fifth Session of the 12th National People’s Congress of Communist Party of China that “the DPRK suspend its missile and nuclear activities in exchange for a halt of the large-scale U.S.-ROK exercises.”
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Wang said the U.S. and the ROK are staging military drills “of an enormous scale and putting more military pressure on the DPRK”.
“This suspension-for-suspension can help us break out of the security dilemma and bring the parties back to the negotiating table,” Wang told media.
Amb. Nikki Haley dismissed China’s suggestion, saying joint military drills such as Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises have been conducted “for 40 years, annually.”
“We always notify North Korea before they happen. We’re very transparent; we’re very open, and we’ve always been clear on that, and we’ve always thought that was very important.”
Concerning the ongoing deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery in South Korea, Haley argued that the U.S. had made it “very clear that the THAAD is not any way directed toward China”.
“Tell me why we wouldn’t do the THAAD in light of 24 ballistic missiles, in light of two nuclear tests,” Haley asked back.
But the U.S. ambassador to the UN also emphasized the importance of China, pointing out the country “can really make a difference” in the current situation.
“We are not going to leave South Korea standing there with the threat of North Korea facing them and not help. So the reason for THAAD is because of the actions of North Korea,” she said. “We have not seen any goodwill at all coming from North Korea.”
Featured Image: UN Photo