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'We have a number of tools to deal with N Korea'

Written by: Staff

Washington, July 6: The international community has remained united in its opposition to North Korea's missile tests and has ''a number of tools'' to deal with Pyongyang's ''brinkmanship,'' says US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Talking to media after after her meeting with Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gul yesterday, Ms Rice said North Korea's decision to go ahead with missile tests demonstrate that it may have ''miscalculated that the international community would remain united. But in fact there has been a very strong response to their actions.'' On Tuesday, North Korea fired six missiles, including Scud-type and Nodong short-to-medium range missiles capable of reaching Japan and a Taepodong-2 long-range missile capable of reaching the United States.

A number of the launches were considered failures by expert observers. All the missiles landed in the Sea of Japan.

US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill left for Asia to meet with allies and discuss North Korea's missile tests. Mr Hill has urged Pyongyang to return to the six-party talks, which are aimed at resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis.

At the White House yesterday, President George w Bush condemned the missile launches and said North Korea has further isolated itself from the rest of the world.

European and Asian leaders have also condemned the North Korean action.

US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said UNSC members are unequivocal in wanting to send a strong message to North Korea.

Japan, meanwhile, has circulated a draft resolution that calls for a ban on the transfer of funds, material or technology that could be used in North Korea's missile program. Japan is within missile range and has raised its military alert status.

Meanwhile State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, during a press briefing yesterday, predicted that international pressure on North Korea ''will continue to build in the coming days.'' ''I think we're entering a period of intensive diplomacy,'' he said, adding that Ms Rice has been on the phone with her counterparts from China, Russia, South Korea and Japan.

McCormack said Bush administration officials will be talking ''to friends and allies around the world who are outraged by this action, which contravenes North Korea's own promises not to launch such missiles,'' adding that, ''we're going to be talking in the international community about how to address this and what specific actions the international community might take.'' The State Department spokesman added that the United States is encouraging other countries to use whatever leverage they might have with North Korea to persuade it to ''reverse course.'' ''We would encourage China, as well as any other country that might have diplomatic leverage with North Korea, to use that leverage, to apply it and to encourage a change of behavior in the North Korean regime,'' McCormack said.

The spokesman added: ''We are certainly relieved that there was no loss of life in this. But there could have been. I think it underscores the seriousness of this activity, as if we need something else to underscore how serious it is. But it certainly could have been more tragic.''


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