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High seas confrontation possible

June 26, 2009
The Daily Mining Gazette

Though nearly all the 24/7 television news coverage during the weekend was focused on Iran, a much more worrisome story was playing out on the high seas.

There, a U.S. destroyer was shadowing a North Korean ship suspected of carrying missiles and perhaps other weapons to Myanmar.

The United Nations has called for an embargo on arms shipments into or out of North Korea. U.N. member states have been urged to stop and inspect ships suspected of attempting to evade the embargo.

But North Korean officials have vowed to go to war with any country whose ship stops one of its vessels.

President Barack Obama deserves credit for avoiding what may be an unnecessary confrontation. The North Korean vessel may be on course for a stop in Singapore, where it can be inspected without U.S. involvement.

One way or another, however, no North Korean ship carrying missiles should be allowed to unload them in Myanmar. If that requires stopping the vessel on the high seas, so be it.

While the best scenario for such a confrontation would involve some other nation's navy - ideally, China's - Obama should not shirk from ordering the U.S. destroyer to make the stop and search, if necessary.



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