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The Obama administration wants help from U.S. allies and possibly China to cut off North Korean shipments that may be carrying nuclear technology or other weapons.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in an interview broadcast Sunday that failing to take aggressive and effective action against North Korea could spark an arms race in northeast Asia.
"We will do everything we can to both interdict it and prevent it and shut off their flow of money," Clinton said of possible attempts by North Korea to ship nuclear material. She spoke on ABC’s "This Week."
She said one of the positive developments to come from North Korea’s "very provocative and belligerent behavior" is that it has brought the countries trying to deal with North Korea much closer together. Those nations include China, Japan, South Korea, and Russia.
"We are working very hard," Clinton said. "I’ve personally talked with all the foreign ministers."
Clinton also said the U.S. is considering adding North Korea back to a list of state sponsors of terrorism, after President Barack Obama pledged "a very hard look" at tougher measures because of the North’s nuclear stance.
The communist country has conducted recent nuclear and missile tests, and there are concerns about the North’s shipping nuclear material to other nations.
Obama’s strong language on North Korea appeared to point toward nonmilitary penalties such as financial punishments, either within the United Nations or by Washington alone. Obama made the comments Saturday during his visit to France.
The Bush administration agreed to remove North Korea from the U.S. list of terrorist states after the North said it would dismantle its nuclear weapons facilities. It later refused to go forward with the dismantlement.
Clinton was asked about a letter that some senators wrote Obama about returning North Korea to that list.
"We’re going to look at it. There’s a process for it," Clinton said in the interview, taped Thursday in Egypt. "Obviously we would want to see recent evidence of their support for international terrorism."
She added, "We’re just beginning to look at it. I don’t have an answer for you right now."
North Korea, she said, was "taken off of the list for a purpose and that purpose is being thwarted by their actions."