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As North Korea fumes, the world unites

The apocalyptic pronouncements from Pyongyang have a silver lining: They may be motivating the world to take unprecedented action against the North.

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North Korea's behavior has become so rash that much of the rest of the world is uniting in unprecedented cooperation to try and curb Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

That is what the Obama administration insists is happening, in any case, in the wake of UN Security Council passage of a resolution condemning the May 25 North Korean nuclear test.

The White House will have ample opportunity to talk up this solidarity this week as South Korean President Lee Myung-bak travels to Washington for talks expected to focus on the North's nuclear and missile programs.

"North Korea is a very destabilizing element in East Asia. Everyone now realizes that," said Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday in an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press.

For its part, Pyongyang over the weekend threatened war with any nation that stops North Korean ships on the high seas and attempts to inspect them for illicit nuclear or weapons shipments. Such inspections would be allowed under the terms of the UN Security Council resolution.

North Korea also vowed to turn into weapons-usable material its small stockpile of plutonium and acknowledged that it has a uranium enrichment program, as the US has long suspected.

"We'll take firm military action if the United States and its allies try to isolate us," said a statement issued by Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency.

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