Posted May. 20, 2010 03:03,
With evidence clearly showing North Koreas involvement in the March 26 sinking of the South Korean naval ship Cheonan, Seoul decided Wednesday to take full-fledged action against Pyongyang.
North Korean vessels will be banned from passing the Jeju Strait and additional investment in the joint industrial complex in Kaesong will be prohibited. In addition, the U.S. 7th Naval Fleet will be deployed to the Yellow Sea to hold an armed protest.
A government official in Seoul said, After the joint civil-military investigation team announces the results of its probe into the cause of the incident Thursday, intense countermeasures will be taken.
The first measure is to ban North Korean vessels from passing the Jeju Strait. Since an inter-Korean maritime agreement reached in August 2005, 853 North Korean civilian vessels have passed the strait through last month. If the ban is imposed, such ships will have to take a longer route going around the strait.
Though the Kaesong complex will remain intact, no additional investment will be made, the official said.
Seoul has advised South Koreans in the North to leave the communist country. Most South Korean staff in the North are leaving except those working at the Kaesong complex and Mount Kumgang.
Seoul and Washington are discussing referring the incident to the U.N. Security Council. Since Chinas consent is a prerequisite for a Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on the North, Seoul will join hands with its allies to focus diplomatic efforts on persuading Beijing.
In line with South Koreas efforts, the U.S. will also pressure North Korea militarily by deploying the U.S. 7th Naval Fleet to the Yellow Sea. The South Korean official said, Whether the entire fleet will be deployed remains to be seen, however.
The U.S. fleet is in charge of the western Pacific and will be first deployed to South Korea if a contingency occurs on the Korean Peninsula. It consists of an aircraft carrier, commander ship, two cruisers, seven destroyers, four landing ships, three submarines, a submarine tender, and four mine sweepers.
The South Korean and U.S. militaries are also considering conducting regular anti-submarine exercises in the Yellow Sea to enhance anti-submarine capabilities.