UN has run out of options to rein in N. Korea: US envoy

Nikki Haley delivers remarks during a United Nations Security Council meeting on North Korea in New York City, on Sept 11, 2017.
Nikki Haley delivers remarks during a United Nations Security Council meeting on North Korea in New York City, on Sept 11, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • The United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has said the UN Security Council has run out of options for containing North Korea's nuclear programme and the US may have to turn the matter over to the Pentagon.

"We have pretty much exhausted all the things that we can do at the Security Council at this point," Ms Haley told CNN's State Of The Union yesterday, adding that she was perfectly happy to hand the matter to Defence Secretary James Mattis.

"We're trying every other possibility that we have but there's a whole lot of military options on the table."

Her words come ahead of US President Donald Trump's whirlwind series of meetings this week at the UN General Assembly where he will make two big asks of the world: Stand with us against North Korea, and hold the line against Iran's nuclear programme.

Over the course of four days, beginning today, Mr Trump will engage in a speed round of diplomacy that may test his patience for the notoriously factionalised, lethargic institution as well as his preference for one-on-one dealmaking in which the US always holds the strongest hand.

Mr Trump's appearance at the UN - highlighted by an address tomorrow before the world body - is his biggest moment on the world stage since taking office.

A CHANCE TO SIZE UP TRUMP

For a number of leaders, this is going to be their first chance to see him, to judge him, to try to get on his good side.

MR JON ALTERMAN, senior vice-president of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, on the UN meeting.

There is far more at stake than at the two economic summits in Europe he attended earlier this year. As he welcomes leaders from nearly 200 nations to New York, he will press them to join US efforts to constrain missile and nuclear programmes in both North Korea and Iran.

The impending move was objected by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who said yesterday that Iran would react strongly to any "wrong move" by the US on Teheran's nuclear deal, after Mr Trump accused Iran of violating the "spirit" of the deal which saw Iran getting sanctions relief in return for curbing its nuclear programme.

Tensions have risen sharply since Mr Trump took office and assumed a more confrontational posture than his predecessor Barack Obama.

"The world is still trying to take the measure of this president," said Mr Jon Alterman, senior vice-president of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. "For a number of leaders, this is going to be their first chance to see him, to judge him, to try to get on his good side."

In New York, Mr Trump will hold a series of individual and small-group meetings with leaders from the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Europe. He will headline the UN Secretary-General's reform campaign, a 120-nation initiative.

North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile with the range to reach Guam early last Friday, the latest in a series of provocations by its leader Kim Jong Un, whom Mr Trump called "Rocket Man" in a tweet yesterday.

The Trump administration is also seeking to extend and strengthen the Iranian nuclear deal that Mr Obama signed and Mr Trump has repeatedly maligned.

Washington extended some sanctions relief for Iran last Thursday under Teheran's 2015 deal with world powers but said it had yet to decide whether to maintain the agreement. Mr Trump must make a decision by mid-next month.

WASHINGTON POST, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2017, with the headline 'UN has run out of options to rein in N. Korea: US envoy'. Print Edition | Subscribe