U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley revealed Monday that the U.S. had to twist China and Russia’s arms to get them on board with the new sanctions on North Korea.
North Korea conducted two tests of an intercontinental ballistic missile in July, escalating the military threat. Prior to this test, North Korea tested several new short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles. Pyongyang has developed an arsenal of ballistic missiles that it can use against its neighbors and the U.S. As North Korea is close to a viable nuclear deterrent, the U.S. pushed the U.N. Security Council to act, and that required convincing China and Russia.
The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved Resolution 2371, the “the single largest economic sanctions package ever leveled against the North Korean regime” and “the most stringent set of sanctions on any country in a generation” over the weekend, according to Haley. The resolution is expected to reduce North Korea’s $3 billion export revenue by roughly one-third.
“The international community is standing with one voice. China didn’t pull off. Russia didn’t pull off. And all of the Security Council and the international community said that’s enough,” Haley said to Fox News’ Dana Perino Monday evening. She explained that North Korea’s repeated provocations are trying the patience of the international community. “It’s reckless. It’s irresponsible. And the international community really laid down the groundwork of saying we’re not going to watch you do this anymore.”
North Korea responded with its usual brand of aggression in the wake of the latest round of sanctions. North Korea will “make the U.S. pay dearly for all the heinous crime it commits against the state and people of this country,” North Korean state-media warned Monday. North Korea may also be moving anti-ship cruise missiles into place along its eastern shores, according to Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson, citing military intelligence reports.
“They’re going to threaten, … but we’re not going to run scared from them,” Haley explained.
In response to the growing threat from North Korea, the Pentagon is working with counterparts in Seoul to give South Korean missiles a boost. South Korea wants heavier conventional warheads for its long-range missiles to ensure that they can adequately penetrate hardened North Korean defenses at a distance.
“Our job is to defend not just the United States, but our allies,” Haley told Fox, adding, “We have to protect our friends, and we’re going to continue to do that.”
As for sanctions, Haley explained that the U.S. will need to stay after China to ensure that they fully implement sanctions against their nuclear neighbor. “China stepped up and said, ‘We will follow through on these sanctions’,” she told Perino, “And now we have to just stay on them to make sure they do that.”
The North Korea problem is one that has puzzled world leaders for decades, but now that the North possesses nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles capable of striking targets in Northeast Asia and across the vast Pacific Ocean, the situation is even more complicated. The U.S. and its allies are praying for a diplomatic solution, recognizing that any sort of military solution would be catastrophic and, in the words of Secretary of Defense James Mattis, “tragic on an unbelievable scale.”
The challenge is that North Korea believes its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles are essential for its survival, and it has said numerous times that it is unwilling to negotiate away its weapons, especially now that it is so close to a reliable nuclear deterrent.