US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, told a meeting of the UN Security Council that North Korea's actions were "quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution."

North Korea test launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that it says could carry a nuclear warhead.
North Korea test launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that it says could carry a nuclear warhead.

The United States cautioned on Wednesday it was ready to use force if required to stop North Korea's nuclear missile program but said it preferred global diplomatic action against Pyongyang.

Taking a major step in its missile program, North Korea on Tuesday test launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that Pyongyang says could carry a nuclear warhead. Some experts believe it could reach the US states of Alaska and Hawaii and perhaps the US Pacific Northwest.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told a meeting of the UN Security Council that North Korea's actions were "quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution" and the US was prepared to defend itself and its allies.

TRT World's Sally Ayhan is following the story from Washington.

"One of our capabilities lies with our considerable military forces. We will use them if we must, but we prefer not to have to go in that direction," Haley said. She urged China, North Korea's only major ally, to do more to rein in Pyongyang.

Trump and other leaders from the Group of 20 nations meeting in Germany this week are due to discuss steps to rein in North Korea's weapons program, which it has pursued in defiance of Security Council sanctions.

Russia's deputy UN envoy said on Wednesday that military force should not be considered against North Korea and called for a halt to the deployment of a US missile defence system in South Korea.

Chinese influence

The missile test is a direct challenge to US President Donald Trump, who has vowed to prevent North Korea from being able to hit the US with a nuclear missile.

He has frequently urged China to press the country's leadership to give up its nuclear program.

Haley said the US would propose new UN sanctions on North Korea in coming days and warned that if Russia and China did not support the move, then "we will go our own path."

The United States might seek to take unilateral action and sanction more Chinese companies that do business with North Korea, especially banks, US officials have said.

China's UN ambassador, Liu Jieyi, told the Security Council meeting that the missile launch was a "flagrant violation" of UN resolutions and "unacceptable."

Simmering tensions

The US has remained technically at war with North Korea since the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty and the past six decades have been punctuated by periodic rises in antagonism and rhetoric that have always stopped short of a resumption of active hostilities.

Tensions have risen sharply after North Korea conducted two nuclear weapons tests last year and carried out a steady stream of ballistic missile tests

Pyongyang will not negotiate with the United States to give up those weapons until Washington abandons its hostile policy against the North, KCNA quoted North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un as saying.

"He, with a broad smile on his face, told officials, scientists and technicians that the US would be displeased ... as it was given a 'package of gifts' on its 'Independence Day'," KCNA said, referring to the missile launch on July 4.

Source: Reuters