Pressure on North Korea over the sinking of a South Korean warship intensified Monday as the United States announced it would conduct joint naval exercises with South Korea and the top United Nations official said the Security Council would need to take some action against the North.
A Defense Department spokesman in Washington, Bryan Whitman, said the naval exercises would be conducted “in the near future” and would be aimed at improving the ability of South Korea and the United States to detect enemy submarines and halt banned shipments of nuclear materials. The announcement was the Pentagon’s first concrete response in the escalating tensions between North and South Korea over what South Koreans have called the deliberate sinking by the North of one of their warships two months ago.
At the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general, told a news conference that “there must be some measures taken,” though he stopped short of saying what those measures should be.
“The evidence is quite compelling,” he said. “ There is no controversy. Therefore it is the responsibility of the international community to address this issue properly.”
Mr. Ban, a former foreign minister of South Korea, said that he tried to separate his own personal feelings from his duties as secretary general but that the attack on the ship compelled him to respond.
Hours earlier, the South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, said that his nation would sever nearly all trade with North Korea, deny North Korean merchant ships use of South Korean sea lanes and ask the United Nations Security Council to punish the North.
According to the BBC, measures announced by South Korea included:
- Stopping inter-Korean trade
- Banning North Korean ships from using South Korean waterways or shortcuts
- Resuming "psychological warfare" - loudspeaker broadcasts, propaganda radio broadcasts and leaflets dropped by balloon
- Referring the case to the UN Security Council