UNITED NATIONS — Ambassadors of the UN Security Council member nations gathered for an emergency meeting of the council Wednesday to condemn the latest ballistic missile launch by North Korea a day earlier — with U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley calling the launch a “clear and sharp military escalation” that the United States is prepared to answer with its “considerable military forces” if necessary.
The meeting, called by the United States, Japan and South Korea, could result in a resolution imposing more sanctions against Pyongyang, which on Tuesday launched into the Sea of Japan what experts have called North Korea’s most powerful projectile to date — an intercontinental ballistic missile that could travel some 4,000 miles and reach Alaska.
“North Korea’s launch of an ICBM is a clear and sharp military escalation,” Haley said, adding that a new resolution on North Korea is forthcoming and that all options are on the table. “The United States is prepared to use the full range of our capabilities to defend ourselves and our allies.”
In a statement issued before the meeting at UN headquarters in Manhattan, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the missile launch “yet another brazen violation of Security Council resolutions and constitutes a dangerous escalation of the situation.” He added: “The DPRK leadership must cease further provocative actions and comply fully with its international obligations.”
The United States and South Korea responded by conducting joint military exercises. China and Russia issued a proposal offering the halt to North Korea’s testing in exchange for the cessation of those exercises by the United States and South Korea.
“Global action is required to stop a global threat,” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement. “Any country that hosts North Korean guest workers, provides any economic or military benefits, or fails to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime. We intend to bring North Korea’s provocative action before the UN Security Council and enact stronger measures to hold the DPRK accountable.”
At the UN, ambassadors roundly chided North Korea’s actions as a threat to international peace and security, and as further evidence of the country’s drive to obtain nuclear weapons.
Matthew Rycroft, Britain’s ambassador to the UN, said: “The United Kingdom condemns in the strongest terms the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s flagrant violation of unanimous decisions by the Security Council. The leadership of the DPRK has persisted in pursuing its illegal programs and misguided pursuit of nuclear weapons capability.”
But Russia’s ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, called for restraint in the council’s approach to North Korea, even while saying the launch was “inadmissible” and in contravention to Security Council resolutions.
China’s UN ambassador, Liu Jieyi, said the launch was flouting “the will of the entire international community” and a violation of Security Council resolutions. He also urged North Korea to stop launches and other nations to curb any provocative rhetoric and actions.