Nikki Haley, America’s Ambassador to the United Nations, told the Security Council on Saturday that they have “pretty much exhausted” their options in dealing with North Korea’s continued efforts to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missile platforms intended to deliver them. Haley went on to say that the appropriate course of action at this point may be to turn further handling of the situation over to the Pentagon.
“We wanted to be responsible and go through all diplomatic means to get their attention first,” Haley said. “If that doesn’t work, General Mattis will take care of it.”
Despite claiming to be “perfectly happy” to turn the North Korean situation over to Defense officials, and adding that President Trump’s recent warning of “fire and fury” directed at Kim was not an empty threat, the U.S. Ambassador did temper her statements by making it clear that the United States still does not want a war with North Korea, though according to her, that’s for North Korea’s sake, rather than America’s.
“If North Korea keeps on with this reckless behavior, if the United States has to defend itself or defend its allies in any way, North Korea will be destroyed,” Haley said. “And we all know that, and none of us want that.”
When Haley last addressed the Security Council regarding North Korea, it followed a unanimous vote to adopt yet another slew of sanctions championed by the United States intended to strangle funding from North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program. Despite U.S. Officials drafting the resolution (reportedly with input from Chinese officials in order to ensure it would pass), President Trump went on record soon after the vote to say that even these new measures likely wouldn’t be enough to convince Kim to end his nuclear pursuits, calling them “another very small step.”
North Korea responded to these new sanctions, intended to stifle their valuable textile export market while also limiting fuel imports coming into the nation, by issuing a new round of threats at the United States, as well as U.S. ally in the Pacific, Japan, claiming that they would “sink” the island nation. Only hours after making that claim, North Korea launched another ballistic missile test. For the second time, North Korea’s ballistic missile trajectory carried it over Japan, before crashing some 1200 miles off the coast of Hokkaido.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson echoed Haley’s sentiments in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, saying, “To be clear, we seek a peaceful solution to this,” but adding, “If our diplomatic efforts fail though, our military option will be the only one left.”
There has been little disagreement regarding just how costly a war with North Korea would be in terms of human life, particularly for those in range of North Korean artillery south of the demilitarized zone dividing the two nations. That understanding has led some to claim that the United States and its allies do not have a viable military option to employ; something national security adviser H.R. McMaster told the press simply isn’t true.
“For those who have said, and been commenting about a lack of a military option, there is a military option,” McMaster assured reporters. President Trump, speaking from a hangar at Joint Base Andrews, also emphasized the “robust” options at the U.S.’s disposal in dealing with Kim.
After seeing your capabilities and commitment here today, I am more confident than ever that our options in addressing this threat are both effective and overwhelming,” Trump said. “America and our allies will never be intimidated. We will defend our people, our nations, and our civilization, from all who dare to threaten our way of life. This includes the regime of North Korea, which has once again shown its utter contempt for its neighbors, and the entire world community.”
Image courtesy of the Department of Defense