WASHINGTON: The UN Security Council has to be ready to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs, US President Donald Trump said Monday, calling the status quo "unacceptable."
"This is a real threat to the world," Trump said while hosting UN Security Council ambassadors at the White House. "North Korea is a big world problem. And it's a problem we have to finally solve."
"The council must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions on the North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile programs," he said.
The comments are sure to once again ratchet up tensions.
North Korea is pushing on with its ballistic missile program, believed to be preparing a sixth nuclear weapons test, and has detained a US citizen -- the third to be held in the country.
At the same time, the United States has ordered an aircraft carrier strike group to the western Pacific, near North Korea. The group is due to arrive by the end of April.
The Pentagon said its leaders and other top officials will give a classified briefing on North Korea to US senators on Wednesday at the White House, rather than the usual secure rooms at the Capitol.
US Vice President Mike Pence is heading back to Washington after visits to Asia and Australia, with North Korea headlining talks.
Trump has intimated he is willing to ramp up US military pressure on North Korea while simultaneously encouraging China to use its influence on its ally, while rejecting bilateral diplomacy with Pyongyang.
"People have put blindfolds on for decades and now it's time to solve the problem," he said.
The US leader spoke about North Korea in telephone conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday and with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday, the White House said.
In the call with Xi, "the two leaders reaffirmed the urgency of the threat posed by North Korea's missile and nuclear programs, and committed to strengthen coordination in achieving the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," a White House statement said.