South Korea’s Lee Myung-bak announced his retaliation plan for the attack on the Cheonan this morning in Seoul. Although restrained like he has been for the past two months, the president finally referred to the possibility of war:
“If our territorial waters, airspace or territory are militarily violated, we will immediately exercise our right of self-defence.”
Moving from “passive defence to proactive deterrence” is a significant shift for a country that seems to get pushed around by North Korea every year. Just this month South Korea fired warning shots when North Korean ships ventured across the border.
On the other hand, if Kim Jong-il were to refrain from lighting the powderkeg for a year or so, he’d be getting off easy. The rest of Lee’s retaliation involves a ban on sand and fish imports. South Korea will continue to share an industrial complex with North Korea and continue sending foreign aid across the border.
Lee will also bring his case to the UN, but the UN can do little without the support of China.
Here’s the rest of Lee’s statement, from Joongang Daily:
“From this moment, no North Korean ship will be allowed to make passage through any of the shipping lanes in the waters under our control, which has been allowed by the Inter-Korean Agreement on Maritime Transportation,” Lee said. “The sea routes meant for inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation must never again be used for armed provocations.”
“In close consultations with the nations concerned, the government will refer this matter to the UN Security Council, so that the international community can join us in holding the North accountable,” Lee said. “Many countries around the world have expressed their full support for our position.”
“Trade and exchanges between the Republic of Korea and North Korea will also be suspended,” Lee said. “However, we will continue to provide assistance for infants and children,” he said. “Matters pertaining to the Kaesong Industrial Complex will be duly considered, taking its unique characteristics into consideration.”
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