WASHINGTON – The Bush administration is trying to rally other countries to threaten North Korea with further isolation if it persists in seeking to test long-range ballistic missiles.
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke by telephone to South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon, while U.N. Ambassador John Bolton spoke to members of the U.N. Security Council in New York.
The discussions were described as preliminary and with broad international coordination as the goal. The idea, said deputy State Department spokesman Adam Ereli, "is to see how we can work together to support security and stability in the peninsula."
As President Bush flew to Europe on Tuesday aboard Air Force One, White House spokesman Tony Snow declined to elaborate on what consequences North Korea might face.
"We are simply not going to tip our hand," Snow said.
"There seems to be a desire to create a sense of crisis" by the North Koreans, said national security adviser Stephen Hadley, also on the trip with Bush. "We have tried to convince them that the kind of attention they would get would not be constructive."
Rather than yielding, North Korea has declared it has a right to test missiles despite a 1999 moratorium, reaffirmed in 2002.
Ereli said there had been no direct U.S. contact with North Korea.
"Our preferred course of action is that there not be a missile launch or a missile test, and we've made that clear," he said. "And we have also made clear that any such action would result in North Korea's further isolation in the international community."
Bolton, speaking in Washington, told reporters the first priority before the Security Council was to convince North Korea not to conduct a long-range missile test.
"We're discussing a range of things that fall within the Security Council's domain, given that the launch would constitute a threat to international peace and security," Bolton said.