US faces limited options on North Korea

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By MATTHEW PENNINGTON, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and its allies have limited options if North Korea goes ahead with its planned long-range rocket launch this month.

President Barack Obama is talking tough, and analysts say the U.S. is likely to take the matter to the U.N. Security Council and could tighten its already tough sanctions. But such efforts would struggle without support from China, which can be expected to resist any moves that might threaten the stability of its neighbor.

There's also deep uncertainty about what effect increased pressure might have on North Korea. After the Security Council condemned its previous long-range rocket launch in 2009, the country responded by kicking out U.N. nuclear inspectors, pulling out of aid-for-disarmament negotiations and conducting its second detonation of an atomic device.

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