Nikki Haley: Chance for Diplomatic Solution on North Korea 'Quickly Closing'

Image: US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a Security Council meeting
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a Security Council meeting on North Korea at the UN headquarters in New York on July 5, 2017. The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting after North Korea said it had successfully tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile.Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images

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By Andrew Rafferty

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called North Korea’s first intercontinental ballistic missile test a “clear and sharp military escalation” and warned that those "actions are quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution" to the growing crisis.

“Today is a dark day,” Haley said in an emergency meeting Wednesday of the U.N. Security Council. “It is a dark day because yesterday’s actions by North Korea made the world a more dangerous place.”

Haley called for the urgent meeting after Tuesday’s ICBM test. U.S. Defense officials said Wednesday they had never before seen North Korea test such a missile and that it was fired from a new launch site. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters that the weapon could travel more than 3,500 miles, making it capable of reaching Alaska.

Haley said previous global efforts to halt Pyongyang's nuclear program have been “insufficient to get them to change.” The U.S., Haley said, is preparing a resolution for more drastic sanctions against the country.

Related: North Korea Launched New Type of Missile, Pentagon Says

“We will look at any country that chooses to do business with this outlaw regime,” Haley said. “We will not have patience for stalling or talking our way down to a watered-down resolution. Yesterday’s ICBM escalation requires an escalated diplomatic and economic response.”

Haley said the burden of imposing sanctions lies with China, who provides North Korea with the majority of its trade. She warned that the U.S. “attitude on trade changes when countries do not take international security threats seriously.”

President Donald Trump criticized China just hours earlier for upping its trade with North Korea.

Haley also invoked the memory of American college student Otto Warmbier in her appeal to the Security Council, saying only a "vicious dictator" like Kim Jong Un would send the 22-year-old home to his parents in an unresponsive medical condition. Warmbier died last month after returning to the U.S. following 17 months in captivity in North Korea.

Most other members of the Security Council also spoke about the seriousness of North Korea’s latest test and the importance of a swift response, though Russia warned that sanctions "cannot be seen as a cure all."

“Time is short, action is required. The world is on notice," Haley said. "If we act together, we can still prevent a catastrophe and rid the world of a great threat. If we fail to act in a serious way, there will be a different response."