Madam Secretary

Clinton to N. Korea: Sinking of S. Korean ship will not ‘go unanswered’

Secretary Clinton had stern words today regarding the torpedoing of the South Korean ship Cheonan in March. At a news conference, seen above, with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada in Tokyo, she named North Korea as the culprit and said the attack will not "go unanswered": I think it is important to send a clear ...

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Secretary Clinton had stern words today regarding the torpedoing of the South Korean ship Cheonan in March. At a news conference, seen above, with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada in Tokyo, she named North Korea as the culprit and said the attack will not "go unanswered":

I think it is important to send a clear message to North Korea that provocative actions have consequences. We cannot allow this attack on South Korea to go unanswered by the international community.

She also said:

[L]et me be clear. This will not be and cannot be business as usual. There must be an international — not just a regional, but an international — response.

Regarding North Korea as the culprit, she said:

The evidence is overwhelming and condemning. The torpedo that sunk the Cheonan and took the lives of 46 South Korean sailors was fired by a North Korean submarine. And the United States strongly condemns this act of aggression. As Minister Okada and I discussed, we will be in deep and constant consultations, not only between the United States and Japan, but also with South Korea, China, and others to determine our response. 

And just what will the response be? When someone from the U.S. media corps asked her, Clinton replied that she will be consulting with officials in Japan, China, and South Korea and said:

It is premature for me, at this moment, to announce options or actions without that level of consultation among the regional nations that are most directly affected by North Korea’s behavior.

How do you think the international community should respond? How do you think it will respond? Seoul doesn’t want to be decimated; the United States is bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq. Will it all be just more harsh words? 

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

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