Sen. Angus King, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, says the United States, China and the world need to “tighten the pressure diplomatically” on North Korea and not deal with the emerging nuclear threat with military force.

King, an independent, made his comments on CNN Wednesday evening following a briefing by the White House for the full senate to discuss the rising tensions on the Korean peninsula.

“A military response would be an absolute last resort,” King said. “It would be pretty awful.”

King called on North Korea’s ally, China, to ramp up the diplomatic pressure.

“The real key to this has to be China,” King said in response to questions from CNN host Wolf Blitzer.

King said China faces a greater risk from a “fully armed” North Korea than the United States.

“Right now, North Korea does not have the capability of reaching the United States and won’t for some time,” King said.

But King said that Seoul, the South Korean capital, is perilously close to the North Korean border – as close to the border as Washington, D.C., is to Baltimore – making a diplomatic solution even more imperative. King said 25 million people live in Seoul.

“The damage, death and destruction could be enormous,” he said.

When asked if he would support a pre-emptive military strike, King said it would difficult to target North Korea’s nuclear weaponry and even if a strike were to take place, North Korea could rebuild.

“You can’t bomb knowledge,” King said.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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