By Rodrigo Campos and Christine Kim
UNITED NATIONS/SEOUL (Reuters)
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, warned North Korea on Tuesday against staging another missile test and said Washington would not take any talks between North and South Korea seriously if they did not do something to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons
Haley told reporters the United States was hearing reports that North Korea might be preparing to fire another missile.
“I hope that doesn’t happen. But if it does, we must bring even tougher measures to bear against the North Korean regime,” Haley said.
South Korea on Tuesday offered talks with North Korea next week, amid a tense standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes, after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in a New Year’s Day speech that he was “open to dialogue” with Seoul.
Kim also said he was open to the possibility of North Korean athletes taking part in Winter Olympics South Korea hosts next month.
At the same time, he stressed that his country would push ahead with “mass producing” nuclear warheads in defiance of U.N. sanctions and that he had a nuclear button on his desk capable of launching missiles at the United States.
U.S. President Donald Trump responded to Kim in a Twitter post on Tuesday: “Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
Haley said the United States would not take talks seriously if they did not take steps toward banning North Korea’s nuclear weapons.
“North Korea can talk to anyone they want, but the U.S. is not going to recognise it or acknowledge it until they agree to ban the nuclear weapons that they have,” she said.
Haley gave no details of the missile test preparations.
Another U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there were indications that could point toward a potential missile launch “sooner rather than later,” but cautioned that such signs had been seen in the past and no test had resulted.
‘DRIVE A WEDGE’
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said North Korea might be “trying to drive a wedge of some sort” between the United States and South Korea and added that while it was up to Seoul to decide who it talked to: “We are very sceptical of Kim Jong Un’s sincerity in sitting down and having talks.”
Keep reading …