U.S.-Led Bid to Condemn North Korea at UN Breaks Down, Officials Say

  • Nikki Haley had led calls for statement from Security Council
  • Russia says it objected to calling the missile an ICBM

Why the North Korea Regime Could Implode Over Time

A U.S.-led effort to broker a United Nations Security Council statement condemning North Korea’s latest missile test has broken down, according to two officials, a setback for the Trump administration on one of its top foreign policy priorities.

Among the five permanent members of the Security Council, the U.S., France and U.K. were unable to overcome Russian and Chinese objections to a draft statement critical of Pyongyang’s July 4 test of a missile that could strike parts of the U.S., according to the officials, who asked not to be identified discussing private negotiations.

The move is a setback for the Trump administration and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who sought a public hearing Wednesday to rally support behind a new resolution and warned nations of the risks of not doing so. At the Security Council meeting, Haley pointedly said all options, including military, were on the table for the U.S. if countries didn’t do more to isolate Kim Jong Un’s regime.

“There are countries that are allowing, even encouraging, trade with North Korea in violation of UN Security Council resolutions,” Haley said. “Such countries would also like to continue their trade arrangements with the United States. That’s not going to happen.”

While the U.S. wouldn’t detail the contents of its proposed resolution, Haley said a unified international community could cut off hard currency, restrict the flow of oil and boost air and maritime restrictions. The administration is willing to “go our own path if other countries didn’t join in.”

Mattis Says U.S., North Korea Not Near War After ICBM Test

Russia’s UN mission pushed back on accusations it was “blocking” a new statement, saying it objected to defining “the launch as an intercontinental ballistic missile test.”

“The parametric flight data of the ballistic target corresponds to the tactical and technical parameters of a medium-range ballistic missile,” according to the Russian statement. “Basing on this assessment, Russia suggested that the United States, as the penholders of the draft Press Statement, make appropriate amendments to it.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday called North Korea’s actions a “new escalation of the threat” to the U.S. and its allies.

Two U.S. officials said North Korea’s latest launch involved an upgraded version of its road-mobile KN-17 missile, which is described by analysts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington as an intermediate-range ballistic missile that previously was tested successfully on May 14. Intermediate-range missiles are capable of flying 3,000 to 5,500 kilometers (1,860-3,400 miles).

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The two officials, who asked not to be identified discussing their assessments, said the North Korean missile was equipped with a booster that’s estimated to increase its range to the ICBM-class of more than 5,500 kilometers. That would put Alaska, though not Hawaii or the U.S. mainland, within range of attack.

“We’re still analyzing all the details on the test,” Pentagon chief James Mattis said. “It clearly had a booster, which was a new development on a previous missile,” he said.

Mattis said the launch doesn’t necessarily bring the U.S. and North Korea closer to war, even as President Donald Trump announced that he’s weighing some "pretty severe things" in response.

“I don’t believe this capability in itself brings us closer to war,” Mattis told reporters Thursday at the Pentagon. He said he wasn’t surprised by the July 4 launch and added that U.S. “self-restraint” prevented open conflict between the countries. “Diplomacy has not failed.”

‘Vivid Discussion’

Trump, who joined his counterparts from Japan and South Korea at a dinner Thursday to discuss North Korea, is expected to make the test a central part of his talks at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg this week. The three leaders held a “vivid discussion,” according to Norio Maruyama, a spokesperson for Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Over dinner, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “conveyed approval” for U.S. sanctions against Chinese companies that deal with with North Korea and said the Japanese government also has been monitoring the movements of those businesses, according to Maruyama.

Abe told Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in that “dialogue for the sake of dialogue with North Korea is meaningless and, at this juncture, it is essential to put pressure on North Korea,” Maruyama said.

In Poland on Thursday, Trump said, "It’s a shame they’re behaving this way, and they’re behaving in a very dangerous manner, and something will have to be done about it.”

But, the president added, "Doesn’t mean we’re going to do them. I don’t draw red lines."

— With assistance by Anthony Capaccio, and Peter Martin

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