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U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley Says 'All Options On Table' With North Korea

Mar 8, 2017
Originally published on March 8, 2017 7:19 pm
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North Korea has become an early test for the Trump administration. It fired missiles into the sea off Japan's coast this week. Today the U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley came out of it talking tough and saying all options were on the table. Well, China, the other key player here, would like to see a different approach as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: The Security Council is condemning the latest missile test. That much they can agree on. The trouble is North Korea is not a rational actor, says U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

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NIKKI HALEY: We see what the response has been to sanctions. We see what the response has been to many of the member states having conversations with North Korea asking them to back down. It is an unbelievable, irresponsible arrogance that we are seeing coming out of Kim Jong Un at this time.

KELEMEN: There have been two rounds of North Korean missile tests since the start of the Trump administration. And last year, the North carried out two nuclear tests and fired off two dozen missiles, which is why the U.S. still plans to deploy a missile defense system known as the THAAD in South Korea.

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HALEY: Tell me why we wouldn't do the THAAD in light of 24 ballistic missiles, in light of two nuclear tests, knowing that we're going to protect our allies. We are not going to leave South Korea standing there with the threat of North Korea facing them and not help.

KELEMEN: China opposes the missile defense system. It's also proposing that the U.S. and South Korea suspend joint military exercises in exchange for a suspension of North Korean nuclear and missile activities. China's foreign minister argues this could pave the way for the parties to return to the negotiating table. Ambassador Haley and her South Korean counterpart were dismissive.

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HALEY: We have to see some sort of positive action taken by North Korea before we can ever take them seriously.

KELEMEN: A State Department spokesman says that North Korea will be, quote, "front and center" during Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visit to Japan, South Korea and China next week. The spokesman Mark Toner says the U.S. remains open to dialogue but adds the Chinese proposal is not a viable deal. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.