North Korea’s latest test of an intercontinental ballistic missile has raised the likelihood of war with the United States, President Trump’s top envoy to the United Nations warned Wednesday.
“The dictator of North Korea made a choice yesterday that brings the world closer to war, not farther from it,” Ambassador Nikki Haley told the U.N. Security Council. “And if war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed.”
“We are once again at a time of reckoning,” Haley said. “President Trump called [Chinese] President Xi this morning and told him that we have come to the point that China must cut off the oil from North Korea. That would be a pivotal step in the world's effort to stop off this international pariah.”
China and Russia blocked a September proposal to impose an oil embargo on North Korea, citing humanitarian concerns. Haley seemed mindful of that history even as she reiterated the call for China to put new pressure on the regime. “China can do this on its own or we can take the oil situation into our own hands,” she said.
Haley also said that the UN should punish North Korea diplomatically. “We should continue to treat North Korea as the international pariah it has become by taking its UN rights and privileges away, including its voting powers,” she said.
A growing number of U.S. lawmakers doubt that China will ever allow the West to put the kind of pressure on North Korea that would cause dictator Kim Jong-un to change his policies. At the same time, U.S. intelligence officials worry that the regime is moving rapidly towards having the ability to put a nuclear weapon on a missile that could strike the mainland of the United States.
Meanwhile, Chinese and Russian diplomats maintain that the United States is also to blame for the burgeoning crisis, due to the American military presence in the region. "Beefing up a military deployment around the peninsula is not in the interests of realizing denuclearization of the peninsula and maintaining peace and stability,” Liu Jieyi, Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, said in August.
That criticism of the U.S. approach to North Korea dovetails with China’s own opposition to American military deployments in its neighborhood. Haley rejected any suggestion that the United States is to blame for the current tensions, much less a hypothetical conflict.
“We have never sought war with North Korea and still today we do not seek it,” Haley said. “If war does come, it will be because of continued acts of aggression like we witnessed yesterday.”