Nordkorea/Südkorea — South Korea Sets Responses to North Korean Provocations

WASHINGTON, May 25, 2010 — South Kore­an offi­cials have laid out a full and appro­pri­ate response to the North Kore­an sink­ing of a South Kore­an frigate that killed 46 sailors in March, and the U.S. gov­ern­ment ful­ly sup­ports the response, Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton said in Bei­jing today.

“We are look­ing for­ward to work­ing with our friends in South Korea,” Clin­ton said. “We appre­ci­at­ed the very states­man­like approach that Pres­i­dent Lee Myung-bak is fol­low­ing, and the pru­dent mea­sures that he announced in his speech.”

The pres­i­dent spoke to his nation’s peo­ple from the War Memo­r­i­al in the South Kore­an cap­i­tal of Seoul yes­ter­day. “From now on,” he said, “South Korea will not tol­er­ate any kind of provo­ca­tion from the North and will act accord­ing to the prin­ci­ple of proac­tive deter­rence.”

South Korea has put in place many respons­es to the frigate Cheonan’s sink­ing “com­mer­cial­ly, from an indus­tri­al stand­point, from a secu­ri­ty stand­point, from a diplo­ma­cy point of view,” Pen­ta­gon spokesman Bryan Whit­man said today. “The Repub­lic of Korea has laid out a fair­ly full agen­da chart­ing the way for­ward, and [one that] as a gov­ern­ment, the Unit­ed States is ful­ly sup­port­ive of.”

Lee closed South Kore­an waters to North Kore­an ships. “Inter-Kore­an trade and oth­er exchanges will be sus­pend­ed,” he said. “After sink­ing our ship and claim­ing the lives of our ser­vice­men, any kind of exchange or coop­er­a­tion at this point is mean­ing­less.”

The South Kore­an pres­i­dent added that he will exam­ine the sta­tus of the Kaesong Indus­tri­al Com­plex in North Korea, where more than 100 South Kore­an com­pa­nies have indus­tri­al plants, and that he would refer the mat­ter to the Unit­ed Nations Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil.

U.S. mil­i­tary forces in Korea are at a con­stant state of readi­ness, and the secu­ri­ty sit­u­a­tion on the penin­su­la is tense. South Kore­an mil­i­tary forces “are main­tain­ing a robust mil­i­tary readi­ness pos­ture through the inte­grat­ed oper­a­tion of [South Korean]-U.S. com­bined intel­li­gence assets and the strength­en­ing [of] our 24-hour sur­veil­lance activ­i­ties against indi­ca­tions of North Kore­an provo­ca­tion,” South Kore­an Defense Min­is­ter Kim Tae-young said in a writ­ten state­ment today. He also announced that the mil­i­tary will re-start psy­cho­log­i­cal oper­a­tions against North Korea, which have been sus­pend­ed since 2004.

Begin­ning today, South Kore­an ships will inter­dict the entry of North Kore­an ships into South Kore­an waters and “take appro­pri­ate mea­sures – includ­ing forcible removal – in case of non­com­pli­ance,” Kim said.

Kore­an and Amer­i­can offi­cials will con­duct a com­bined anti-sub­ma­rine exer­cise in the Yel­low Sea in the near future, Kim said. U.S. offi­cials had not iden­ti­fied the ships and assets that will par­tic­i­pate, Whit­man said. The Kore­ans and oth­er coun­tries involved in the Pro­lif­er­a­tion Secu­ri­ty Ini­tia­tive are prepar­ing mar­itime inter­dic­tion train­ing exer­cis­es both with­in and out­side the region to active­ly stem the pro­lif­er­a­tion of North Kore­an nuclear weapons and their weapons of mass destruc­tion, he added.

Mean­while, Lee con­tin­ues to leave the door open to the North.

“We are not aim­ing for mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion,” the South Kore­an pres­i­dent said. “Our goal is peace and sta­bil­i­ty on the Kore­an penin­su­la, and ulti­mate­ly, peace­ful reuni­fi­ca­tion. It’s high time for the North to change.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)