Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, suggested the White House might consider military retaliation if North Korea’s leader fails to stand down from its aggressive military posture.
“We are not going to do anything unless he gives us a reason to do something, so our goal is not to start a fight,” she said Monday on TODAY.
She also described what kind of provocations by North Korea’s Kim Jung Un would prompt the United States to take action.
“If you see him attack a military base, if you see some sort of intercontinental ballistic missile, then obviously we’re going to do that,” she said. “But right 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.”
Pressed to clarify if she specifically meant the United States would resort to military retaliation under any of those conditions, Haley said that decision ultimately would have to come from the White House.
“I think then the president steps in and decides what’s going to happen,” she said.
President Trump was scheduled on Monday to host members of the United Nations Security Council at the White House, and North Korea will undoubtedly be a major point of discussion.
On TODAY, Haley said Kim’s recent actions are because he is “starting to flex his muscles” after feeling diplomatic pressure from China, which is working with the United States to contain North Korea. Last week, the U.N. Security Council condemned North Korea’s missile testing.
She said Kim is mainly putting on a show to help the people of North Korea feel confidence in their leader.
“He’s feeling the pressure and I think he’s starting to feel paranoid,” she said, later adding: “The United States is not looking for a fight, so don’t give us a reason to have one.”
Haley said that the United States also is working diligently to learn more details about a third American citizen who has been detained in North Korea but said “it’s hard to get information out of North Korea, obviously, but we’re doing everything we can."