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US won't use force on NK ship

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 Myanmar.

Defense Undersecretary Michele Flournoy met South Korean officials in Seoul yesterday as the US 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 words 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, North Korea 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 North Korea 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."


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