WASHINGTON – North Korea said the U.S. will “pay dearly” after its United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley demanded the strongest sanctions ever to stop Kim Jong Un’s nuclear weapons program.
Describing Haley as a “political prostitute” who kicked off a “hysteric fit,” a commentary in the state-run Korean Central News Agency on Friday warned the U.S. after she said North Korea’s Sept. 3 nuclear test was evidence the country was “begging for war.” KCNA didn’t specify the threat.
“Nikki should be careful with her tongue though she might be a blind fool,” KCNA said. “The U.S. administration will have to pay a dear price for her tongue-lashing.”
The missive from Pyongyang came hours after President Donald Trump said it wasn’t certain the U.S. would end up in a war with North Korea over its nuclear weapons development, but that military action remained an option.
“Nothing’s inevitable,” Trump said in a news conference on Thursday at the White House with the emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah. “I would prefer not going the route of the military, but it is something certainly that could happen.”
He declined to say whether he’d accept a nuclear-armed North Korea that can be successfully deterred from using atomic weapons. A senior administration official later told reporters that the U.S. will not allow North Korea to extort or threaten the world with its nuclear program, and that the administration is not sure the country can be deterred.
The Trump administration is seeking to ratchet up pressure on North Korea after the country tested what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb on Sunday, following several successful tests of ballistic missiles with intercontinental range.
The official said that the danger of war is rising, and that the U.S. is also concerned about North Korea exporting its nuclear technology to other nations or to terror groups. Any threat to the U.S. or its allies will be met with a massive military response, the official said.
“North Korea is behaving very badly and it’s got to stop,” Trump said at the press conference.
South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon on Thursday fueled speculation of an imminent launch, saying that North Korea may fire its next missile on Saturday – on the anniversary of its founding.
An analysis published Thursday by NK Pro points to little correlation between key dates in the country and its testing cycle. NKPro is a U.S. subscription-based website that provides analysis on North Korea.
The U.S. is circulating a draft resolution at the United Nations that would bar crude oil shipments to North Korea, ban the nation’s exports of textiles and prohibit employment of its guest workers by other countries, according to a diplomat at the world body. The proposal also calls for freezing the assets of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. But China and Russia, both of which have veto power in the Security Council, have indicated resistance to imposing more sanctions on North Korea.
The U.S. is willing to risk a veto of its proposal rather than see it get watered down, according to a Security Council diplomat who asked not to be identified because negotiations continue. The U.S. has called for the council to take up its resolution on Sept. 11.
Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke for 45 minutes Wednesday as the U.S. president seeks China’s help in putting pressure on Pyongyang. While both sides released statements agreeing on the goal of eliminated nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula, there was no mention of next steps.
Top Trump administration officials including Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford briefed Congress on Wednesday about the crisis and the administration’s approach.
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