Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Awaiting the results of probe into sinking of the Cheonan

As South Korea awaits the results of a probe into the sinking of a warship, the Cheonan, expected to be made public Thursday, debate is already underway over the policy options open to Seoul if the investigation holds North Korea responsible.

Seoul has convened a multinational team -- including American, Australian, British and Swedish as well as South Korean members -- to investigate the cause of the disaster. Their findings will be revealed to reporters Wednesday, and the committee will announce its findings Thursday.

After both ends of the hull were raised from the seabed and the damage seen, an internal explosion was ruled out. South Korean defense officials, after stating that a mine might have been responsible, have named a non-contact torpedo as the most likely cause.

Press reports in South Korea, citing unidentified official sources, have stated that fragments of such a weapon and traces of explosive have been found, while some people with sources in North Korea claim Pyongyang's military carried out the attack with a midget submarine.

If Seoul does pin the blame on Pyongyang, its avenues of retaliation are restricted.

(i) Counterstrike

(ii) Diplomatic maneuvering

(iii) Cutting off the money

(iv) Reopening the propaganda war?


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