Analysis: Nikki Haley adds to tough talk with North Korea response

Haley: Talking tough at the United Nations
Haley: Talking tough at the United Nations

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    Haley: Talking tough at the United Nations

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Haley: Talking tough at the United Nations 01:27

Story highlights

  • US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley issues print statement on North Korean missile test
  • Her statement was more notable than the UN Security Council action on the missile, says Richard Roth

(CNN)Another North Korean missile launch, and yes, another emergency UN Security Council session the day after.

It wasn't the council condemnation that was significant and notable, but rather the print statement issued by new US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley as she entered the consultations room.
Just weeks into her position, the tough-talking diplomat said Monday, "It's time to hold North Korea accountable, not with our words, but with our actions." Also in contrast to other recent US ambassadors, there was criticism aimed at China over its support of Pyongyang.
    Haley wrote, "We call on all members of the Security Council to use every available resource to make it clear to the North Korean regime, and its enablers, that these launches are unacceptable."
    Enablers? No doubt a Trump administration shot across the bow aimed at Beijing. China went along with the council statement issued Monday night calling the launch a grave violation of its obligations under Security Council resolutions.
    But China, North Korea's main ally and trading partner, has resisted more drastic attempts over the years at tougher sanctions such as an oil embargo. The council has slapped six rounds of economic and military sanctions on North Korea but none has pressured Kim Jong Un to halt ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests.
    Haley's veiled shot at China is not the diplomatic norm at the United Nations. Usually, harsh words among the big powers are expressed behind closed doors, though former US Ambassador Samantha Power and Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin went at it during public council meetings on Syria, the anger spilling over after years of war.
    President Trump said last week he had agreed that Beijing is the one China in the US relationship, not Taiwan, but the Haley comment means relations among the big permanent five countries on the Security Council are likely to be in potential roller-coaster mode for the next four years.
    The United Kingdom seemed to publicly want to back Haley's "enabler remark." UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters, "We need to make sure every single country in the international community is fully implementing every single Security Council resolution on North Korea."
    However, the United Kingdom was the latest country on the council to not agree with Haley on another important issue. Haley put out another barbed statement Friday night blocking the new UN secretary-general from naming a former Palestinian Prime Minister to be the UN representative in Libya. The UK ambassador disagreed Monday, as did France and Sweden over the weekend.
    It wasn't as if China wasn't going to go along with the UN statement of denunciation on North Korea. China has lost patience with Pyongyang, especially after North Korea conducted a nuclear test during major Communist Party gatherings in China. There are limits as to how far China will let Pyongyang be punished and questions remain as to how tight the border really is between China and North Korea.
    Haley is adding to her tough talk list at the United Nations. Haley now says its time for action, not words, on North Korea, Iran and UN reform. At the United Nations its not easy to win support of other countries. It can take time, a lot of time. But the international community may be running out of time as North Korea improves its missile capability and range.