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 Myanmar.
Defense Undersecretary Michele Flournoy met with South Korean officials in Seoul on Friday as the U.S. sought international support for aggressively enforcing a U.N. 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 U.N. resolution.
The USS John McCain (named for the father and grandfather of the current Senator) has been shadowing this ship. It's been on full alert and ready to engage. The U.S. suspects that this ship is carrying illicit weapons to Myanmar. The U.S., per a UN resolution, had the right to board any North Korean ship that it suspected of carrying illicit weapons.
Meanwhile, Il had promised war if any of his ships were stopped and not allowed to reach their destination.
The trip comes after North Korea's Foreign Ministry threatened war with any country that stops its ships on the high seas under new sanctions approved by the U.N. Security Council in response to its May 25 nuclear test.
It also vowed Saturday to "weaponize" all its plutonium and acknowledged a long-suspected uranium enrichment program for the first time. Both plutonium and uranium are key ingredients of atomic bombs.
So, what was set up here was a long distance geo political game of chicken. The president risked war by boarding the ship without permission. On the other hand, he would be backing down and again not enforcing a UN resolution by not following through. It turns out the President of the United States has chosen the former. President Obama has given the order not to board any ship if we aren't invited in. By doing so, he gives the tyrant a win in this round. Kim Jong Il often uses provocation to test the world to see how far he can go. Cleary, he has seen that he can go farther in testing our president.
In all fairness, there's not much that can be done. The UN Resolution requires the permission of the flag nation to perform an inspection, a clause that was added to ensure the Chinese and Russians wouldn't veto it. One wrong move here and not only would you have a war that could drag not just North and South Korea, but the US, China, and Japan as well.
Personally, I think the real pressure is on China. The Chinese know that that North Korea isn't worth risking war with the US and Japan (North Korean belligerence could be used by Japan to justify rearmament), but at the same time China needs North Korea as a proxy. They have every incentive to eventually rein in Pyongyang.
As for the ship of small arms to Burma, North Korea isn't exactly Saddam's Iraq where we practically expected unconditional surrender before a single shot was fired.
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