Waiting for the UN

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Waiting for the UN

The government sent an official letter to Mexican Ambassador to the United Nations Claude Heller, who concurrently serves as the president of the UN Security Council, asking the council to address North Korea’s torpedo attack on a South Korean naval corvette on March 26. It asked for stern action against North Korea’s military aggression, proven by a joint investigation by civilian, military and foreign experts, as its move posed a danger to global peace and security.

The government reportedly is seeking a resolution condemning North Korea’s action but not asking for additional sanctions. North Korea is currently under trade sanctions and a sea embargo for its nuclear test last year. Even without a physical punitive action, an international condemnation will imprint a scarlet letter on North Korea for its culpability of downing a Navy ship on a peaceful patrol mission, killing 46 sailors. We can take our own punitive measures even without a Security Council resolution as the forensic and physical evidence is sufficient to prove North Korea’s attack. But a Security Council condemnation would be an international endorsement of any measures we choose to take.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry on Friday warned that it could take an “ultra-strong” retaliation if the Security Council addresses the issue, claiming South Korea’s investigative report was a fabrication. It remains unclear how China, a veto-wielding permanent council member, will respond. Beijing has sat on the fence over the Cheonan issue. The government must bolster diplomatic efforts to persuade China.

The ruling Grand National Party experienced a crushing defeat in this week’s midterm local elections. The main opposition Democratic Party, which made a stunning comeback in the election, has been raising questions about the government conclusion on the Cheonan. But security issues must not be influenced by election results. Security is the bedrock of a state’s existence and without solid security, democracy and national prosperity cannot be sustained. The government, politicians and public must share one voice in condemning North Korea.

We must ready a two-track policy in case the Security Council discussions hit a snag by seeking our own way of pressuring North Korea until it admits to the attack and takes disciplinary action against those responsible for the attack. The joint South Korean and U.S. forces will stage a large-scale military exercise later in the month and an anti-submarine drill at the end of this month off the west coast. North Korea has been clamorously rattling its sabers since we announced we’d take strong actions. If we bow to North Korea’s threat, we lose our say in our country’s future.
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