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North Korea threatens US over Nikki Haley’s ‘hysteric fit’ at UN

LiveMint logoLiveMint 08-09-2017 Margaret Talev

Washington/Hong Kong: North Korea said the US will “pay dearly” after its United Nations (UN) ambassador Nikki Haley said the isolated nation was “begging for war,” again ratcheting up tensions as world leaders consider a fresh round of sanctions.

Describing Haley’s comments to the UN this week as a “hysteric fit,” a commentary in the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Friday warned the US of unspecified retribution. North Korea detonated its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb on Sunday, and South Korea has said Kim Jong Un’s regime may be planning to launch another intercontinental ballistic missile on Saturday.

“The US administration will have to pay a dear price for her tongue-lashing,” KCNA said of Haley’s remarks.

US President Donald Trump’s administration is pushing the UN Security Council to ban oil sales to North Korea in a fresh bid to pressure Kim. The North Korean leader is seeking the capability to strike the US with a nuclear weapon, and has said he won’t negotiate unless Washington drops its “hostile” policies.

On Thursday, Trump said it wasn’t inevitable that the US would end up in a war with North Korea over its nuclear weapons development, but that military action remained an option.

“I would prefer not going the route of the military, but it is something certainly that could happen,” Trump said in a press conference at the White House.

He declined to say whether he’d accept a nuclear-armed North Korea that can be successfully deterred from using atomic weapons. A senior administration official later told reporters that the US will not allow North Korea to extort or threaten the world with its nuclear program, and that the administration is not sure the country can be deterred.

The official said that the danger of war is rising, and that the US is also concerned about North Korea exporting its nuclear technology to other nations or to terror groups. Any threat to the US or its allies will be met with a massive military response, the official said.

‘Behaving very badly’

“North Korea is behaving very badly and it’s got to stop,” Trump said.

South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon on Thursday fuelled speculation of an imminent launch, saying that North Korea may fire its next missile on Saturday—the anniversary of its founding.

An analysis published on Thursday by NK Pro points to little correlation between key dates in the country and its testing cycle. NK Pro is a US subscription-based website that provides analysis on North Korea.

The US is circulating a draft resolution at the UN that would bar crude oil shipments to North Korea, ban the nation’s exports of textiles and prohibit employment of its guest workers by other countries, according to a diplomat at the world body. The proposal also calls for freezing the assets of the North Korean leader. But China and Russia, both of which have veto power in the Security Council, have indicated resistance to imposing more sanctions.

China veto

The US is willing to risk a veto of its proposal rather than see it get watered down, according to a UN Security Council diplomat who asked not to be identified because negotiations continue. The US has called for the council to take up its resolution on 11 September.

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke for 45 minutes on Wednesday as the US president seeks China’s help in putting pressure on Pyongyang. While both sides released statements agreeing on the goal of eliminated nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula, there was no mention of next steps.

Top Trump administration officials including defence secretary James Mattis, secretary of state Rex Tillerson and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Joseph Dunford briefed Congress on Wednesday about the crisis and the administration’s approach. Bloomberg

Kanga Kong and Kambiz Foroohar contributed to this story.

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