South Korea to halt all trade with North Korea over sinking of Cheonan warship

From: Jane Galt (Jane_G...)

This is gonna hurt North Korea 100 times more than it hurts the south!;

South Korea to halt all trade with North Korea over sinking of Cheonan
By John Pomfret
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 24, 2010

BEIJING -- South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said Monday that his
country is stopping all trade and most investment with North Korea and
closing its sea lanes to North Korean ships after the nation's deadly
attack on a South Korean warship.

Lee also called for a change in the North's Stalinist regime.

The tough measures, announced in an address to his nation, were bound to
ratchet up pressure on the isolated Pyongyang government and add a new
flash point in U.S. relations with China.

"Fellow citizens, we have always tolerated North Korea's brutality, time
and again. We did so because we have always had a genuine longing for peace
on the Korean Peninsula," he said. "But now things are different. North
Korea will pay a price corresponding to its provocative acts."

Lee then said that "no North Korean ship will be allowed to make passage
through any of the shipping lanes in the waters under our control" and that
"any inter-Korean trade or other cooperative activity is meaningless."

A senior U.S. official, traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham
Clinton in China, said the United States will back "all the steps the South
Koreans are going to announce." In an indication of the seriousness with
which the Obama administration views the drama between the North and South,
home to nearly 29,000 U.S. troops, he added: "We have not faced something
like this in decades." Lee apparently has ruled out military action because
he does not want to trigger an all-out war.

But Lee did condemn Kim Jong Il's regime. "North Korea's goal is to
instigate division and conflict. For what reason and for whom is it doing
what it does? As compatriots, I am truly ashamed," he said. "It is now time
for the North Korean regime to change."

Lee also threw down a challenge to China, saying: "No responsible country
in the international community will be able to deny the fact that the
Cheonan was sunk by North Korea."

The U.S. official said that, based on talks over the past two days, Chinese
officials have not accepted the results of a South Korean investigation --
backed by experts from the United States, Australia, Britain and Sweden --
that implicated North Korea in the attack on the 1,200-ton Cheonan that
killed 46 sailors. As such, it is unclear whether Beijing will support
Lee's measures or his call, also made in the speech, to take the issue to
the U.N. Security Council.

China's reluctance to agree with the report underscores the challenges the
United States faces as it seeks to forge closer ties to Beijing. The U.S.
official also noted Sunday that China and the United States still do not
see eye to eye on the details of planned economic sanctions on Iran for its
failure to stop its nuclear enrichment program. Of specific concern, he
said, are disagreements between Beijing and Washington about how
investments in Iran's oil and gas sector will be treated. China has
committed to investing more than $80 billion in Iran's energy sector;
tightened sanctions against Tehran could threaten those investments.

U.S. officials said the Obama administration considers the situation in
Northeast Asia and Iran so pressing that on Sunday night in Beijing,
Clinton dispensed with the niceties of protocol and got down to a
substantive discussion in the middle of a private banquet to welcome the
biggest delegation of U.S. officials to Beijing to date. The officials -- a
band of 200 led by Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and
specializing in fields such as health, energy and the environment,
counterterrorism, nuclear proliferation, and human rights -- are in Beijing
for the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

Reverberations in Tokyo

Officials and analysts said that the attack on the Cheonan seems to be
redefining the security equation in Northeast Asia, bolstering the United
States, damaging China and concentrating the minds of Japanese officials.

The attack has provided political cover for Japan's government -- only the
second opposition party to take power in nearly 50 years -- to end an
eight-month-long feud with the United States and accept a plan to relocate
a U.S. Marine base within Okinawa. On Sunday, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio
Hatoyama announced that his country would abide by a 14-year-old agreement
to move the Futenma air base in Okinawa to a less populated part of the

Hatoyama's government had campaigned on a platform that rejected the
Futenma deal and advocated a more Asia-centric view of Japan's place in the
world. But the Cheonan incident reminded them "that this is still a very
dangerous neighborhood and that the U.S.-Japan alliance and the basing
arrangements that are part of that are critical to Japan's security," the
senior U.S. official said.

Tough options for China

The attack and its aftermath also threaten China's place in the region and
could force it to make an unwanted choice between South Korea and North
Korea -- two countries that it has handled deftly since normalizing
relations with Seoul in 1992. South Korea wants China, which is a permanent
member of the Security Council, to back Seoul's call to take the Cheonan
issue to the council. So does the United States, the U.S. official said.

But that could risk hurting Pyongyang, and China appears committed to
maintaining the North Korean regime above all.

"For China," the U.S. official said, "they are in uncharted waters."

China reacted slowly to the Cheonan's sinking, waiting almost a month
before offering South Korea condolences. Then it feted North Korea's Kim in
May, apparently offering him another large package of aid, Asian diplomats
said. China's attitude has enraged South Korea.

Michael Green, a national security official during George W. Bush's
administration, said the Cheonan crisis highlights just how differently
China views its security needs than the rest of the players in Northeast
Asia. For years, as China worked with the United States, Russia, South
Korea and Japan to try to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear
weapons programs, these differences were obscured. But the Cheonan's
sinking has changed that.

While the incident is pushing officials in South Korea, Japan and the
United States to contain North Korea and even prepare for a future without
a North Korean state, Green said, China appears intent on redoubling its
efforts to ensure North Korea's stability.

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