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North Korea sanctions said to be working

July 2, 2009 at 8:43 PM

WASHINGTON, July 2 (UPI) -- Sanctions against North Korea appear to be working, the White House said Thursday, the same day Pyongyang fired four short-range missiles.

Japanese news reports suggest North Korea's latest tests fueled fears it may plan to fire a missile at Hawaii on or around the Fourth of July, The Kansas City (Mo.) Star reported Thursday.

At a briefing Thursday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters sanctions are clearly having an impact.

"Obviously, there have been positive developments over the past few days as it relates to the actions of North Korea," Gibbs said. "I don't want to get any more specific than that."

In response to the tests, Gibbs called inspections and enforcement of sanctions the top priorities. He said the most recent tests of the missiles came as no surprise to the administration because North Korea had said it planned to launch them.

Gibbs said Russia and China have cooperated with the sanctions, which he said "many people thought would not come to fruition."

The Star said if North Korea fires a missile at Hawaii, the United States plans to coordinate a response with Russia, China, Japan and South Korea.

Gibbs said he is hopeful the North Koreans would discuss the missile launches, but added, "The international community is taking very strong action to deal with the situation in North Korea and to prevent weapons or material from leaving North Korea and going anywhere else."

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