Nikki Haley says North Korean regime "will be utterly destroyed" if war comes

Last Updated Nov 30, 2017 5:41 AM EST

UNITED NATIONS -- After the launch this week of an intercontinental ballistic missile by North Korea, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley and her counterparts from Japan and the Republic of Korea requested an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting.

At the Council meeting late Wednesday, the United States set out a path forward, asking China to cut off oil to North Korea and asking the U.N. to cut off North Korea's voting rights at the U.N., saying, "we need China to do more."

"Through sanctions we have cut off 90 percent of North Korean trade and 30 percent of its oil. But the crude oil remains. The major supplier of that oil is China." Haley said.

"We are once again at a time of reckoning," Haley said. "North Korea's behavior has become more intolerable." She added that "over 20 countries from every corner of the globe have restricted or ended their diplomatic relations."

"The dictator of North Korea made a choice yesterday that brings the world closer to war, not farther from it," Haley said. "We have never sought war with North Korea, and still today we do not seek it. If war does come, it will be because of continued acts of aggression like we witnessed yesterday. And if war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed."

The missile test, which was signed off personally by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was its first one since September.

Wednesday's launch of what the North called the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) demonstrated a greater range than other missiles it's tested and showcased several capabilities the North must master if it were ever to actually try to unleash them at the United States.

The Pentagon confirmed Tuesday that North Korea had launched its first ballistic missile in 10 weeks. Spokesman Col. Robert Manning said U.S. officials detected the launch.

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An undated photo shows North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

North Korea government handout

Manning said the missile was launched from Sain Ni, North Korea, and traveled around 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), before landing in the Sea of Japan. He added that the launch did not pose a threat to "North America, our territories or our allies."

North Korea says it now has a missile that can strike anywhere in the U.S. including Washington, D.C., and Kim Jong Un's regime successfully launched its third intercontinental ballistic missile, CBS News' Correspondent Ben Tracy reported.

Although there were no missile tests during President Trump's trip to Asia, the U.S put North Korea back on a U.S state sponsors of  terrorism, allowing the U.S. to impose more sanction and President Trump said Wednesday more "major sanctions" will be imposed on North Korea in response to its latest ballistic missile launch.

Trump tweeted that he spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping about Pyongyang's "provocative actions," and he vowed that "additional major sanctions will be imposed on North Korea on Wednesday, saying, "This situation will be handled!" Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. could target financial institutions doing business with North Korea.

In September, the U.S. drafted a U.N. resolution calling for a complete oil embargo along with an asset freeze and travel ban on North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un -- a measure that had the support of U.S. allies but was met with resistance from China. Diplomats now say the U.S., along with Western nations and Japan, will be looking to increase pressure with tougher sanctions as a last resort to diplomatic and economic measures.

At the Council meeting, several Council members talked about the enforcement of existing sanctions and also suggested adding new sanctions.

U.K. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said, "The latest missile launch is not a one-off. It follows 19 previous launches this year, and North Korea's sixth nuclear test in September. The latest violation demonstrates, once more, North Korea's disregard for our collective security and the international obligations, that all of us, as law-abiding states, take upon ourselves."

"Japan will never tolerate a nuclear armed North Korea, Japan's Ambassador Koro Bessho said, adding that North Korea is a "clear global threat to all member states."

"You don't bully and play games with nuclear weapons," Haley said.

North Korea's state-run television claimed that it had successfully tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could reach all of the U.S. mainland.

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A look at a missile launch by North Korea.

North Korea government handout

North Korea has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006 related to its ballistic missiles and nuclear programs.

France's Ambassador Francois Delattre called for tighter sanctions saying that the threat posed by North Korea, "has shifted from being regional to global, from being potential to immediate." He said that France's President Emmanuel Macron just called for an increase sanctions on North Korea after the missile test.

"Confronted with such a threat and challenge from North Korea, weakness or ambiguity are simply not an option," Delattre said, adding that France favors tightening the sanctions with strong additional measures.

Italy's Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi told CBS News, "Sanctions are working because we know of the constraints they are putting on the regime which is going short of foreign currency ... We can do more also in terms of implementation."

In September, the U.S. drafted a U.N. resolution calling for a complete oil embargo along with an asset freeze and travel ban on North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un -- a measure that had the support of U.S. allies but was met with resistance from China. Diplomats now say the U.S., along with Western nations and Japan, will be looking to increase pressure with tougher sanctions as a last resort to diplomatic and economic measures.

Rycroft, who said that the launch "demonstrates that this reckless regime will put their nuclear and ballistic nuclear programs ahead of the needs of their own people."

Asked by CBS News if a full oil embargo is under consideration, Rycroft said, "That's one of the issues which I'm sure will come up in the course of our discussions today. We're looking closely with our Security Council colleagues on what response the Security Council should come up with in light of this reckless provocation from the DPRK (North Korea) regime," saying that the latest is " the longest of the three ICBMs they have ever launched."

At the Council, China's Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, Wu Haitao, pushed back on the call for China to do more, calling for less confrontation with Pyongyang. And, Russia's Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia talked about the "unprecedented military exercises" between South Korea and the United States, and he questioned the sincerity of Washington to find a solution.

Nebenzia added to the Council's condemnation, saying, "Russia does not accept the claims of the DPRK for obtaining the status of a nuclear power… At the same time, it is obvious to us that there is no military solution to the problems of the Korean Peninsula... in the current situation, we urge all parties involved to end the escalation of tension."

Russia then re-introduced the proposal made by Russia and China for a "double freezing" in which North Korea suspends testing and the U.S. and South Korea reduce the "scope and intensity" of military exercises, which, he said "would open the way for a discussion of the principles of peaceful coexistence between Washington and Pyongyang and the resumption of inter-Korean dialogue."

In a briefing to the Council by United Nations political affairs head, Jeffrey Feltman, he said that he met with North Korea's Ambassador Ja Song Nam on Wednesday to tell him Pyongyang must: "Desist from taking any further destabilizing steps," and told the Council: "This is the 13th time the Council has met to discuss North Korea."

In a speech in St Louis about taxes, Trump, who has called North Korea's leader "Little Rocket Man" told the crowd, "He is a sick puppy."

Trump himself had talked about dialogue before the recent launch, and the international watchdog agency's chief, Yukiya Amano told CBS News that, if that day came, the agency would be ready to inspect North Korea's nuclear sites.

Haley concluded with both a warning and a word of reassurance to the leaders in Pyongyang, "we have never sought war with North Korea, and still today we do not seek it. If war does come, it will be because of continued acts of aggression like we witnessed yesterday."

  • Pamela Falk

    Pamela Falk is CBS News Foreign Affairs Analyst and an international lawyer, based at the United Nations.