UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday said “all options are on the table” to deal with North Korea and dismissed China’s suggestion of a “dual suspension” of U.S. and South Korea military drills and Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear tests.
“We are not dealing with a rational person,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after the United Nations Security Council discussed North Korea’s launch of four ballistic missiles on Monday.
“It is an unbelievable, irresponsible arrogance that we are seeing coming out of Kim Jong Un at this time,” Haley said.
She said the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump was reevaluating how it would handle North Korea and that “all options were on the table,” adding: “We are making those decisions now and we will act accordingly.”
North Korea fired the missiles into the sea off Japan’s coast in response to the annual U.S.-South Korea military drills, which Pyongyang sees as preparation for war. Pyongyang has fired dozens of missiles and conducted two of its five nuclear tests in the past year in defiance of U.N. resolutions.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday that the tests by the North and the joint drills across the border in South Korea were causing tension to increase like two “accelerating trains coming toward each other,” suggesting a “dual suspension” to allow all sides to return to negotiations.
“We have to see some sort of positive action taken by North Korea before we can ever take them seriously,” Haley said when asked about Beijing’s proposal. She said the drills had been held annually for 40 years and North Korea was always notified.
The Security Council on Tuesday strongly condemned North Korea’s missile launches and expressed concern over the country’s “increasingly destabilising behaviour”. North Korea has been under U.N. sanctions aimed at impeding the development of its banned nuclear and missile programs since 2006.
“The most important thing is to implement those Security Council resolutions in a comprehensive way, including reducing tensions and also not to do anything to exacerbate tension on the Korean Peninsula,” China’s U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi said.
The U.S. military on Tuesday started to deploy the first elements of its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system to South Korea, which China opposes. Diplomats said China raised the THAAD deployment during Wednesday’s closed-door meeting.
British U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft also rejected China’s description of the U.S. and South Korean military drills and North Korea’s nuclear and missiles tests as equal threats.
“The threat comes from DPRK (North Korea) and the continued plan to nuclearise the DPRK and it is that programme of nuclearisation that needs to stop immediately,” he said.
Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Alistair Bell and James Dalgleish