U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Wednesday that North Korea's actions were "quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution" and the United States was prepared to defend itself and its 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 told a UN Security Council meeting on Pyongyang's recent intercontinental ballistic missile launch.
She said the United States would propose new UN sanctions on North Korea "in the coming days."
She also warned that Washington was prepared to cut off trade with countries trading with North Korea in violation of UN resolutions.
Russia calls for dialogue
Russia's deputy UN envoy said military force should not be considered against North Korea and also called for a halt to the deployment of a U.S. missile defence system in South Korea.
"The possibility of taking military measures to resolve the problems of the Korean Peninsula should be excluded," said deputy Russian UN ambassador Vladimir Safronkov. "We express our support to the idea of North and South Korea engaging in dialogue and consultations."
He also said that attempts to economically strangle North Korea are "unacceptable" and that sanctions will not resolve the issue.
China's UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi, who also holds the Security Council presidency this month, said North Korea's missile launch was a "flagrant violation" of UN resolutions and "unacceptable."
"We call on all the parties concerned to exercise restraint, avoid provocative actions and belligerent rhetoric, demonstrate the will for unconditional dialogue and work actively together to defuse the tension," Liu told the Security Council.
He also called for a halt to the U.S. deployment of a missile defence system in South Korea.
China is North Korea's only major ally and its biggest trading partner.
U.S. and Russia at odds
Near the end of the hour-long session, the seventh time this year the Security Council has discussed North Korea, the U.S. and Russian ambassadors spoke again.
Taking issue with what her Russian counterpart had said, Haley said the U.S. "will go our own path" to deal with North Korea if other countries do not approve new UN sanctions.
Safronkov responded that sanctions could not be a cure-all and that a political solution was also necessary.