US Will Not Use Force to Inspect NKorean Ship
covering burma and southeast asia
Monday, October 23, 2017
Asia

US Will Not Use Force to Inspect NKorean Ship


By KWANG-TAE KIM / AP WRITER Saturday, 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 Friday.

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

North Koreans take part in a mass rally marking anti-US Day at the Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang on the 59th anniversary of the start of the Korean War (1950-53) on June 25. This picture was released by North Korea's official news agency KCNA. The banner reads, "Crush the nuclear war provocation and maneuvers by the US!" (Photo: Reuters/KCNA)
Defense Undersecretary Michele Flournoy met with South Korean officials in Seoul on Friday as the US sought international support for aggressively enforcing a UN 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 US 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 Friday that Washington has ruled the use 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 US 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.

Flournoy's trip came as the US sought international support for aggressively enforcing the UN sanctions.

It is not clear what was on board the North Korean freighter, but officials have mentioned artillery and other conventional weaponry. One intelligence expert suspected missiles.

The US and its allies have made no decision on whether to request inspection of the ship, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said Wednesday in Washington, but North Korea has said it would consider any interception an act of war.

If permission for inspection is refused, the ship must dock at a port of its choosing, so local authorities can check its cargo. Vessels suspected of carrying banned goods must not be offered bunkering services at port, such as fuel, the resolution says.

A senior US defense official said the ship had cleared the Taiwan Strait. He said he didn't know whether or when the Kang Nam may need to stop in some port to refuel, but that the ship has in the past stopped in Hong Kong's port.

Another US defense official said he tended to doubt reports that the Kang Nam was carrying nuclear-related equipment, saying information seems to indicate the cargo is banned conventional munitions. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity in order to talk about intelligence.

North Korea is suspected to have transported banned goods to Burma before on the Kang Nam, said Bertil Lintner, a Bangkok-based North Korea expert who has written a book about leader Kim Jong Il.

South Korea, meanwhile, plans to use high-tech surveillance and weapons systems to counter North Korea's missile and nuclear programs, Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee said in a Friday briefing.

South Korea plans to employ unmanned reconnaissance planes and add "bunker-buster" bombs to its arsenal in case of signs that the North planned to launch an attack toward the South, Lee said.

Associated Press writers Jae-soon Chang in Seoul, and Pauline Jelinek in Washington, contributed to this report.

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