Last week ended with the world wondering
how global leaders would respond
to the confirmation that a North
Korean warship had sunk a South Korean ship, apparently without
provocation. We may now have some answers. South Korea is already pursuing a full embargo, with U.S. approval
. Here's how the U.S., South
Korea, China, and Japan may react.
- Why Kim-Jong Il Ordered
Attack New York Magazine's Adam Raymond summarizes the episode:
"Not only was North Korea behind the torpedo attack that killed 46 South
Korean sailors in March, but now American officials are saying that Kim
Jong-il ordered it himself. But why would Dear Leader do such a thing?
To reestablish his control and reinforce his right to name his son Kim
Jong-un as his successor, of course."
- South Korean Trade Plays Key Role China Post's Arthur Cyr explains, "Seoul's economic leverage is crucial.
China's trade with South Korea now approaches approximately US$200
billion per year, compared to about US$3 billion with North Korea. South
Korea's government should use this leverage to maximum advantage. North
Korea remains committed to cooperation with South Korea in promoting
the Kaesong industrial zone just north of the 38th Parallel." The New York Times reports,
"South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said that his nation would sever
nearly all trade with North Korea, deny North Korean merchant ships use
of South Korean sea lanes and ask the United Nations Security Council to
punish the North ... President Obama instructed American military
commanders to coordinate closely with their South Korean counterparts to
'insure readiness and deter aggression.'"
- Japan Has No
Mizokami of Japan Security Watch asks, "exactly why should North
Korea care what Japan thinks? Japan is the second (or third) largest
economy on Earth, only 500 kilometers away, yet has little or no
leverage-political, economic, or military-over North Korea. On the other
hand, North Korea, a largely impoverished, ruined state, has enormous
leverage over Japan in the form of ballistic missiles and WMDs."
U.S.-N.K. Bilateral Talks Doowon Lee writes to the New
York Times, "Even though diplomacy is the best way to resolve the
Cheonan incident, it does not mean that the Obama administration should
engage in bilateral talks with North Korea. This is what North Korea has
demanded for a long time, and granting it now is equivalent to
rewarding North Korea for its hostile action."
- Why War Is No
Option The Japan Times says South
Korea "has been working with allies and neighbors to build a consensus
in favor of action -- not necessarily military action. Even a limited
military engagement could escalate and kill thousands of people. The
mere prospect of conflict could wreak havoc on the South Korean economy.
Instead, Seoul is rallying support for a new round of sanctions against
North Korea. Japan and the U.S. are on board. Key to the success of any
sanctions regime, as always, is China."
- All Comes Down to
China Outside the Beltway's Doug Mataconis warns, "As
always with North Korea, this really all boils down to what China is
willing to do and how much misbehavior they're willing to tolerate from
Pyongyang. Which is why I doubt that much is going to come of this
latest round of outrage." The Japan Times Explains,
"China is not indifferent to North Korean misbehavior, but it has other
concerns. First, it wants to keep a sympathetic government on its
border as well as a buffer zone between itself and South Korea. Second,
there is fear that clamping down on Pyongyang will force it into a
corner and provoke more dangerous behavior."
- End of Korean
Cooperation The Irish Times' Patrick Smyth writes, "The
only realistic sanction options available to South Korea involve pushing
for the North's increased international isolation and cutting back on
inter-Korean trade, already in sharp decline in the two years since Lee
has come to power. This could end deliveries of sand, a key earner for
the impoverished North. It could also close down Kaesong Industrial
Park, a co-operative venture just north of the demilitarised zone - an
act that would effectively end the 'sunshine policy' of engagement that
the South has pursued for decades and with which Lee is not enamoured."
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