By Michael Hernandez
The U.S. ambassador to the UN issued a stern warning to North Korea Tuesday amid reports that Pyongyang is readying a new ballistic missile test.
"I hope that does not happen. But if it does, we must bring even more measures to bear on the North Korean regime," Nikki Haley said at the UN's New York headquarters.
"The civilized world must remain united and vigilant against the rogue state's development of a nuclear arsenal. We will never accept a nuclear North Korea."
Amid the heated rhetoric, South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for his government to “quickly” act on his North Korean counterpart’s offer of dialogue a day earlier.
During his New Year’s address, the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, also offered to send a delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics in the South in February.
“I view chairman Kim Jong-un's remarks about sending a North Korean delegation to the PyeongChang Olympics and holding government-level dialogue as a response to our proposal to turn the [Games] into a groundbreaking chance to improve South-North relations and establish peace,” Moon said at a Cabinet meeting covered by local news agency Yonhap.
The South Korean leader had campaigned on the promise of trying to improve ties with Pyongyang before taking office last May. Instead, tensions on the peninsula spiked as North Korea went on to carry out its sixth ever nuclear test in September alongside numerous ballistic missile launches amid threats against the U.S.
While the U.S. has maintained that the North should demonstrate its willingness to denuclearize before being rewarded with talks, the Moon administration is keen on dialogue without preconditions.
However, Seoul remains committed to sanctions aimed at reversing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
Reacting to the possible negotiations, Haley threw cold water on their effectiveness.
"North Korea can talk with anyone they want, but the U.S. is not going to recognize it or acknowledge it until they agree to ban the nuclear weapons that they have," she said.