US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley lashed out against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in unusually personal terms on Wednesday.
“This is not a rational person,” she told reporters at the UN. “He is not thinking clearly.”
Haley spoke after the latest urgent UN meeting addressing Pyongyang’s actions, this time after North Korean missiles fell in Japanese fishing areas.
Frustration at the UN is high after rounds of sanctions and numerous resolutions and statements of condemnations have failed to stem the behavior.
The UN Security Council, which held closed-door consultation Wednesday, remains united in opposition to North Korea’s missile launches. But determining the next options that might deter Pyongyang’s behavior is difficult.
Usually US diplomats issue sharp criticism of the country, not the leader, of North Korea. Haley in her two months on the job has targeted Iran and Russia. She upped the rhetoric in her personal broadside Wednesday.
But beyond personal attacks, what can the UN do? Before Haley spoke, the council had already issued one of its toughest statements of denunciation ever on the latest incident, which involved the launch of four missiles.
Asked if the arsenal for further action is depleted, Haley responded, “All the options are on the table.”
She said that each country would return to its capitals and investigate “what else we can do to get the attention of North Korea.”
Haley again appealed for UN member countries to make sure all sanctions measures are being upheld.
The most recent UN report again found holes in the international system designed to prevent the regime from receiving banned items that might aid in the country’s nuclear and missile programs. The report said various shadow businesses and banks assist North Korea to get money, people and goods into the isolated nation.
Beijing has floated the idea of a freeze-for-a-freeze, whereby the US and South Korea would halt its joint military exercises in exchange for a halt in Pyongyang’s missile tests. Haley, for her part, said, “We have to see some sort of positive action taken by North Korea before we can ever take them seriously.”
On the freeze, Japan’s UN Ambassador Koro Bessho said, “We need some assurance as a starting point from North and the goal should be denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”
The US deployment of the THAAD missile system in South Korea was addressed in the closed-door discussions as well.
China, North Korea’s main ally, has not been pleased with the deployment, appealing for peace and stability on the peninsula.
Haley, however, said, “We made it very clear that THAAD is not directed at China.” After the previous urgent council meeting on North Korea last month, Haley offered veiled criticism of Beijing when saying that “enablers of North Korea” should halt their actions. Critics say China has allowed many goods to cross its border with North Korea.
The murder of Kim Jong Un’s half-brother in Malaysia was also raised, but no proposals were put forward by the full council.