US warns of military response to missiles

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North Korea's actions are "quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution" and the US is prepared to defend itself and its allies, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley says.

"One of our capabilities lies with our considerable military forces. We will use them if we must but we prefer not to have to go in that direction," Haley told a UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday on Pyongyang's recent intercontinental ballistic missile launch.

Taking a major step in its missile program, North Korea on Tuesday test-launched an ICBM, which some experts believe has the range to reach Alaska and the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

The test, the first of its kind by North Korea, triggered an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday and a call by Washington for global action.

Haley said the US would propose new UN sanctions on North Korea "in the coming days".

She also warned Washington was prepared to cut off trade with countries trading with North Korea in violation of UN resolutions.

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Image: Lee Jin-man