US tracks N. Korea ship without force

Associated Press / June 27, 2009
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SEOUL - The United States will not use force to inspect a North Korean ship suspected of carrying banned goods, an American official was quoted as saying yesterday.

An American destroyer has been shadowing the North Korean freighter sailing off China’s coast, possibly on its way to .

Defense Undersecretary Michele Flournoy met with South Korean officials in Seoul yesterday as the United States sought international support for aggressively enforcing a United Nations sanctions resolution aimed at punishing Pyongyang for its second nuclear test last month.

The North Korean-flagged ship, Kang Nam 1, is the first to be tracked under the UN resolution.

North Korea has in response escalated threats of war, with a slew of harsh rhetoric including warnings that it would unleash a “fire shower of nuclear retaliation’’ and “wipe out the [US] aggressors’’ in the event of a conflict.

On Thursday, the communist regime organized a massive anti-American rally in Pyongyang where some 100,000 participants vowed to “crush’’ the United States. One senior speaker told the crowd that the North will respond to any sanctions or US provocations with “an annihilating blow.’’

That was seen as a pointed threat in response to the American destroyer.

Flournoy said yesterday that Washington has ruled out the use of military force to inspect the North Korean freighter.

“The UN resolution lays out a regime that has a very clear set of steps,’’ Flournoy said, according to the Yonhap news agency.

“I want to be very clear . . . This is not a resolution that sponsors, that authorizes, use of force for interdiction.’’

Flournoy said the United States still has “incentives and disincentives that will get North Korea to change course.’’

“Everything remains on the table, but we’re focused on implementing the resolution fully, responsibly and with our international partners,’’ she said.