As Chinese leader Xi Jinping makes a plea for restraint, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley suggested the United States would not rule out using use military force to respond to additional missile testing by North Korea.
The U.N. Security Council last week condemned the actions by North Korea as "highly destabilizing behavior."
Haley's comments to NBC's "Today" show come a day after the U.S. Navy strike group led by nuclear aircraft USS Vinson began carrying out exercises with Japanese warships near the Philippines. They also follow, as CNN wrote, "North Korea's state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun [saying] in an editorial the country is ready to illustrate its 'military force' by sinking a 'nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a single strike'."
North Korean leader "Kim Jong-un is starting to flex his muscles because he feels the pressure" and is "starting to get paranoid," Haley said, referring to the Security Council's condemnation and the fact that "China has been considerably helping in putting pressure on him."
Her country's perspective, Haley said, is that "the United States is not looking for a fight, so don't give us a reason to have one."
Asked by co-anchor Savannah Clark Guthrie if "a preemptive strike against North Korea is really being considered," Haley replied: "We are not going to do anything unless he gives us reason to do something." Pressed by Guthrie as to what that reason would be, Haley said, "If you see him attack a military base, if you see him if you see some sort of intercontinental ballistic missile, then obviously we're going to do that. Now, we're saying don't test, don't use nuclear missiles, don't try and do any more actions. And I think he's understanding that."
"If he tests another intercontinental ballistic missile, if he were to test another nuclear device, when you say, 'Obviously we're going to do that,' do you mean military retaliation?" anchor Matt Lauer asked.
"I think then the president steps in and decides what's going to happen," Haley said.
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Her comments come a week after North Korea's deputy U.N. ambassador, Kim In-ryong, said his country was "ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S.."
President Donald Trump, meanwhile, had a phone call with his Chinese counterpart, who called for a cooling of tensions.
The Hill writes that Xi said to Trump
that China wishes "the parties concerned will exercise restraint and avoid actions that aggravate tensions on the Peninsula," the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
"Xi noted that if the parties shoulder their due responsibilities and meet each other halfway, they can solve the nuclear issue of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and denuclearize the Korean Peninsula," Xinhua added.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also called for restraint earlier this month, urging "all parties [...] not let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage."
"Force cannot solve the problem, dialogue can be the only channel to resolve the problem." Yi added.
Reuters also notes that all 100 senators have been asked to attend a briefing on the situation in North Korea by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.