United States President Donald Trump has called North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a "little rocket man" and a "sick puppy" as America's ambassador to the United Nations asked China to cut off oil supply to the hermit nation.
- US calls on China to cut oil supplies to North Korea after its latest missile test
- Donald Trump says Kim Jong-un is a "little rocket man" and a "sick puppy"
- North Korean state media has published the first images of yesterday's launch
North Korea yesterday fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) it claims is capable of reaching all of the US mainland, a week after Mr Trump put North Korea back on a US list of countries it says support terrorism.
The Trump administration has repeatedly said all options are on the table in dealing with North Korea, including military ones, but has said it still prefers a diplomatic option.
Still, speaking at an emergency UN Security Council meeting, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley issued a stark warning.
"We have never sought war with North Korea, and still today we do not seek it. If war does come, it will be because of continued acts of aggression like we witnessed yesterday," she said.
"And if war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed."
Ms Haley said the US had asked China to cut off oil supply to North Korea, a drastic step that Beijing — the North's sole major trading partner — has so far refrained from doing.
Mr Trump spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier and said more sanctions on Pyongyang would be enforced.
"Just spoke to President Xi Jinping of China concerning the provocative actions of North Korea. Additional major sanctions will be imposed on North Korea today. This situation will be handled!" Mr Trump wrote on Twitter.
However, urging China to use its leverage on Pyongyang and promising more sanctions against North Korea have borne little fruit for the Trump administration so far.
In a speech in Missouri about taxes, Mr Trump, who has traded insults with the North in the past, referred to North Korean's leader with a derisive nickname.
"Little rocket man. He is a sick puppy," Mr Trump said.
United Nations political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman has met with North Korea's Ambassador Ja Song-nam to tell him Pyongyang must "desist from taking any further destabilising steps".
French President Emmanuel Macron said he was counting on UN Security Council members China and Russia to step up sanctions on North Korea.
"I am counting a lot in particular on China and Russia in order to take the most difficult and effective sanctions," Mr Macron told France 24 television.
North publishes photos of Kim watching launch
The latest warnings from the US came as North Korea's Rodong Sinmun newspaper, which is run by the Workers' Party of Korea, published the first photos of the launch of the new Hwasong-15 missile.
Photos released by North Korean state media appeared to show a missile being positioned on the launch site by a mobile vehicle, designed to allow the missile to be fired from a wider number of areas to prevent it being intercepted before launch.
Mr Kim is shown laughing and smiling with officials both next to the missile as it is readied, and in a control booth.
The launch itself shows the missile lifting off amid smoke and fire, with Mr Kim watching from a field in the distance.
North Korea said the new missile soared to an altitude of about 4,475 kilometres — more than 10 times the height of the International Space Station — and flew 950 kilometres during its 53-minute flight.
It flew higher and longer than any North Korean missile before, landing in the sea near Japan.
Experts said the new Hwasong-15 missile theoretically gives North Korea the ability to hit the US, including the east coast, although it is not clear whether it could carry a nuclear weapon.
North Korea, which conducted its sixth and largest nuclear bomb test in September, has tested dozens of ballistic missiles under Mr Kim's leadership in defiance of international sanctions.
Pyongyang has said its weapons programs are a necessary defence against US plans to invade.
The US, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea as a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, denies any such intention.