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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

US prepared to use force against North Korea 'if we must'

The US ambassador to the UN said Pyongyang's missile test had made the world 'a more dangerous place'

United States UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks during an emergency security council meeting on North Korea's latest missile launch
United States UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks during an emergency security council meeting on North Korea's latest missile launch

The United States says it is prepared to use force against North Korea as it warned the country's actions are closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution to its missile test.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations described Pyongyang’s missile launch as a “clear and sharp military escalation” and warned action would be taken to prevent North Korea becoming a nuclear armed state.

Speaking at an emergency UN security council meeting, ambassador Nikki Haley said North Korea’s test of a missile which had the capability of reaching Alaska had made the world “a more dangerous place”.

She added that while the U.S. is not seeking military confrontation, military options are on the table.

She said: “Their actions are quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution.

“The U.S. is prepared to use the full range of our capabilities to defend ourselves and our allies.

“One of our capabilities lies with our considerable military forces. We will use them if we must, but we prefer not to have to go in that direction.”

The Trump administration launched a government-wide effort to identify options for confronting Pyongyang following its unprecedented intercontinental ballistic missile launch.

President Donald Trump and other senior officials dangled the prospect of punishing countries that trade with North Korea — a threat aimed directly at China, Pyongyang's biggest benefactor.

In a tweet Wednesday morning, Trump questioned why the U.S. should continue what he sees as bad trade deals "with countries that do not help us."

Some administration officials are still holding out hope of persuading China to ratchet up economic pressure on Pyongyang, despite Trump's increasingly pessimistic attitude toward Beijing. Trump, who departed for Europe early Wednesday, is scheduled to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Germany.

South Korea's president, meanwhile, said the world should look at tougher sanctions against North Korea and insisted the problems across his border should be addressed through diplomatic channels.

"I think that the North Korean question should be solved by peaceful means," said President Moon Jae-in, who will also meet Trump at the G-20 gathering.

The North Korean threat appears certain to hang over Trump's European trip, which opens in Poland. Trump is expected to use the trip to try to forge consensus with European Union partners, which could also put more financial pressure on North Korea.