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South Korea Examining Diplomatic Options

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South Korea is putting the onus on Moscow and Beijing to push forward with diplomatic action against North Korea:

South Korea will report the results of an ongoing investigation into the sinking of the Navy ship Cheonan to China and Russia and consult with them on the possibility of referring the issue to the U.N. Security Council (UNSC), a government source said Wednesday.

The move comes as investigators point to a North Korean torpedo attack as the likely cause of the deadly incident that claimed the lives of 46 sailors.

A funeral for the fallen seamen will be held at a naval base in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, today, which has been designated a national day of mourning during which flags will be flown at half-mast.

In spite of North Korea’s isolation, there still are diplomatic options for punishing the North, including freezing or seizing North Korean financial assets and banning travel by North Korean officials. Focusing on Russia and China seems a very smart move by the South Koreans, both because of the influence that Moscow and Beijing might have over Pyongyang, and because the legitimacy of any multilateral action will be enhanced through coming from North Korea’s perceived supporters.

See also Julian Ku on the legality of a some options, including a potential blockade. Scott Snyder takes a look at the impact of the Cheonan Incident on South Korean domestic politics.

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