US threatens to ‘utterly destroy’ North Korean regime

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US ambassador to the UN warns Kim Jong Un of the consequences of war

SEOUL/UNITED NATIONS: The United States warned North Korea's leadership it would be "utterly destroyed" if war were to break out after Pyongyang test-fired its most advanced missile, putting the US mainland within range, in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The Trump administration has repeatedly said all options are on the table in dealing with North Korea's ballistic and nuclear weapons programmes, including military ones, but that it still prefers a diplomatic option.

Speaking at an emergency UN Security Council meeting, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the US had never sought war with North Korea.

"If war does come, it will be because of continued acts of aggression like we witnessed yesterday," she said.

"And if war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed."

Mrs Haley said the US has asked China to cut off oil supply to North Korea, a drastic step that Beijing - the North's neighbour and sole major trading partner - has so far refrained from doing.

Mr Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping talked on the phone earlier on Wednesday.

"Just spoke to President Xi Jinping of China concerning the provocative actions of North Korea. Additional major sanctions will be imposed on North Korea today. This situation will be handled!" Mr Trump wrote on Twitter.

Previous US administrations have failed to stop North Korea from developing nuclear weapons and a sophisticated missile programme.

Mr Trump, who has previously said the US would "totally destroy" North Korea if necessary to protect itself and its allies from the nuclear threat, has also struggled to contain Pyongyang since he took office in January.

Urging China to use its leverage and promising more sanctions against North Korea are two strategies that have borne little fruit so far.

In a speech in Missouri about taxes, Mr Trump, who has traded insults with the North in the past, referred to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with a derisive nickname.

"Little Rocket Man. He is a sick puppy," Mr Trump said.

North Korea, which conducted its sixth and largest nuclear bomb test in September, has tested dozens of ballistic missiles under Mr Kim's leadership.

Pyongyang has said its weapons programmes are a necessary defence against US plans to invade. - REUTERS

China voices grave concern over N Korea missile test

BEIJING: China on Wednesday voiced "grave concern" over North Korea's test of a missile capable of striking anywhere in the US and called for talks to peacefully resolve the nuclear crisis.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing's proposal for North Korea to freeze weapons tests in return for the US to suspend military drills in the region was the best approach to ease tensions. Washington has rejected that approach.

China hopes all sides will work on the "peaceful settlement" of the issue as a military option is not the solution to resolve the crisis, Mr Geng told a regular news briefing. "China expresses grave concern and opposition to the relevant launching activity," he said.

Beijing "strongly urges" North Korea to observe UN resolutions and "stop actions that heighten tensions on the Korean peninsula".

"At the same time, we also hope the relevant parties will act cautiously to work together for the peace and stability of this region," said Mr Geng. - AFP

US believes it can defend against N. Korea missiles, for now

WASHINGTON: The United States military remains confident it can - at least for the moment - protect against any North Korean missile threat, a US official said yesterday after Pyongyang tested a new rocket type.

North Korea earlier launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, which it called a Hwasong-15, and claimed was capable of carrying a "super-large heavy warhead" to any target in the continental United States.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has warned that Pyongyang could soon threaten "everywhere in the world".

The US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that America has not changed its assessment that its various missile defense systems can stop a North Korean missile attack, though the guarantee cannot be ensured indefinitely.

"I don't think they could successfully nuke the US at this time," the official said.

"There is a general sense we can stop whatever North Korea has right now. For the future, I don't know." - AFP