The United States warned on Wednesday that it was ready to use force “if we must” to stop North Korea’s nuclear missile program but said it prefers global diplomatic action against Pyongyang for its test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said North Korea’s actions were “quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution” and the United States was prepared to defend itself and its 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,” Haley told an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting on North Korea.
Taking a major step in its missile program, North Korea on Tuesday test-launched an ICBM, which some experts believe has the range to reach Alaska and the Pacific Northwest of the United States.
The test, the first of its kind by North Korea, led to the United States, Japan and South Korea requesting the Security Council meeting. The council is currently chaired by China.
North Korea says the missile could carry a large nuclear warhead.
The missile test is a direct challenge to US President Donald Trump who has been urging China, North Korea’s main trading partner and only major ally, to press Pyongyang to give up its nuclear program.
Haley said the United States would propose new U.N. sanctions on North Korea “in the coming days.” She also warned that Washington was prepared to cut off trade with countries who were doing business with North Korea in violation of UN resolutions.