The Trump administration didn’t mince words on Monday, accusing those who continue to trade with North Korea of aiding its “dangerous nuclear intentions.” Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the Security Council that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “is begging for war.” And while Haley didn’t threaten unilateral action by the United States, she did say it was time to step up pressure on North Korea. “Enough is enough,” said Haley. “The time for half measures in the security council is over. The time has come to exhaust all of our diplomatic means before it’s too late.”
The United States plans to circulate a resolution this week and it seems clear that it would focus on countries that continue to trade with North Korea, which would naturally include China. “The United States will look at every country that does business with North Korea as a country, that is giving aid to their reckless and dangerous nuclear intentions,” she said.
Haley spoke shortly after South Korea said the North looked to be preparing for another ballistic missile test. “We have kicked the can down the road long enough,” Haley said at one point. “There is no more road left.”
Trump spoke on the phone with his South Korean counterpart on Monday and they both characterized the nuclear test over the weekend as an “unprecedented” provocation. The two leaders agreed to remove the current limit on the payloads for South Korean missiles, theoretically opening the door to a stronger strike if there is a military conflict.
South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo said he had called on his U.S. counterpart, Jim Mattis, to send strategic assets, including nuclear submarines, to be sent more regularly to South Korea. “I told him that it would be good for strategic assets to be sent regularly to the Korean Peninsula and that some South Korean lawmakers and media are strongly pushing for tactical nuclear weapons [to be redeployed],” Song told lawmakers. Analysts have said the move would “sharply increase the risk of an accidental conflict,” notes the Washington Post.