United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said Monday that “the United States is not looking for a fight with North Korea,” but she did not say definitively that the U.S. would not retaliate if North Korea continued to test missiles and nuclear weapons.
In an interview with NBC’s “Today,” Haley argued that the international community had successfully applied pressure to the country’s ruler, Kim Jong Un, and that his threats against America and its allies were meant to reassure his own citizens.
“He’s just trying to get the confidence of his own people,” she said, after denying that American threats of military action against Kim could cross what host Savannah Guthrie called “a point of no return, with words.”
“When he does these things, he’s not necessarily doing them to all of us as much as he’s trying to prove to his own people he can handle this,” Haley continued. “He’s very much feeling the pressure. I think you’re starting to see him get very paranoid. And I think you’re seeing pressure come from all parts of the international community.
On Sunday, the country’s state-run newspaper threatened to sink the American aircraft carrier currently drilling with Japanese destroyers in the western Pacific Ocean.
On Saturday, the same outlet quoted a foreign ministry spokesperson who threatened Australia with a nuclear attack after Australian Prime Minister Julie Bishop said North Korea would be the subject of further Australian sanctions.
North Korea’s last nuclear weapons test was on September 9, 2016. And American and South Korean officials have said its last missile test, on April 16, was unsuccessful.
Guthrie asked Haley if a preemptive strike against North Korea was “really being considered,” to which the ambassador replied, “We are not going to do anything unless he gives us reason to do something.”
“What’s that reason?” Guthrie asked.
“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 and China’s helping us really put that pressure on him.”
“Let me just make sure I understand what you just said,” host Matt Lauer interjected. “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?”
“I think then the President steps in and decides what’s going to happen,” Haley said.
Watch below via NBC: