US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley called North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile launch (ICBM) test a "clear and sharp military escalation" and said military action remained on the table, the media reported.
"The US is prepared to use the full range of our capabilities to defend ourselves and our allies…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 said on Wednesday while addressing a UN Security Council meeting on the North Korean ICBM launch.
The Indian-American called for an "escalated diplomatic and economic response" against Pyongyang, reports CNN.
She also warned other countries supporting North Korea that the US could halt trade with them if they do not stop aiding the Pyongyang regime.
"There are countries that are allowing, even encouraging, trade with North Korea in violation of UN Security Council resolutions," Haley said.
"Such countries would also like to continue their trade arrangements with the US. That's not going to happen."
Haley called out China specifically, noting that 90 per cent of North Korea's trade is with Beijing.
"Much of the burden of enforcing UN sanctions rests with China," she said, adding "We will work with China … but we will not repeat the inadequate approaches of the past that have brought us to this dark day."
The UN Security Council meeting came in response to North Korea's first ICBM test on Tuesday, which US officials assess was a new kind of missile that had a range of about 5,500 km, capable of hitting Alaska, reports CNN.
Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador to the UN Liu Jieyi criticised North Korea for launching an ICBM but also was critical of the US and South Korea for deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) missile system (THAAD) in Seoul.
Liu said the Thaad deployment "seriously undermines the strategic security interests" of China and was "not conducive" to de-nuclearising the Korean Peninsula.