Bracing for the worst scenarioThe United Nations Charter recognizes use of military actions to maintain and restore peace, and for self-defense. Article 51 of Chapter VII states, “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.” North Korea’s heavy artillery attack on the inhabited South Korean island of Yeonpyeong is clearly an armed attack against a UN member. Our return fire is a legal act of self-defense.
North Korea inarguably has started and provoked the exchange of fire, and the international community must force Pyongyang to answer for its actions. The attack on Yeonpyeong Island is not a regional problem, but a threat to world peace and security. The government has reported to and is consulting with the UN and its allies to forge a joint response to the attack.
The latest attack - the most aggressive since the 1950-1953 Korean War - underscores our vulnerability. If we cannot suppress the erratic threats from North Korea, it will put not only the region, but the entire world, at risk. Together with the international community, we should respond with wisdom and calm.
An armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula involves the United States under the military alliance pact. The two countries must mount a powerful defense. As North Korea’s patron, China will inevitably have to get deeply involved, as it needs regional security to sustain its economic growth and rising global hegemony.
Tensions have been building since the March sinking of a South Korean ship that killed 46 sailors, for which the North does not claim responsibility. North Korea pushed tensions to unprecedented levels by reviving its uranium enrichment program and with this latest provocation. It fired a barrage of artillery shells just as the members of the six-party talks were discussing ways to resume denuclearization talks following the weekend revelation of uranium enrichment activity in the North.
This latest incident is even graver than the Cheonan sinking as it was an attack directly against our land and civilians. China cannot continue to cover for North Korea and resist international pressure to get tough on Pyongyang as it has done in the past. It must assume a responsible role as a key member of the Security Council. Articles 41 and 42 of the UN Charter authorize nonmilitary and military actions to restore and keep peace. We must prepare for the worst.