US military strike at North Korean vessel would send Tehran a strong signal

While carefully choosing his words on Iran’s protest movement against the Islamic regime, US president Barack Obama appears to be on course for a military showdown with North Korea, Iran and Syria’s nuclear collaborator. “This administration and our military,” he said, “is fully prepared for any contingencies.”
Military sources in Japan and South Korea report US satellites and the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain are shadowing a North Korean vessel suspected of carrying weapons for Myanmar. Their target is currently 322 kilometers south of Shanghai. It is expected to make its way through the Strait of Malacca for possible refueling in Singapore.
Pyongyang has threatened a military response if its ships are intercepted and searched under the latest round of UN Security Council sanctions. Sunday, June 21, North Korea’s official Tongil Sinbo said of the South Korean president Lee Myung-bak’s talks last week with president Obama that “The US-touted provision of “extended deterrence, including a nuclear umbrella” [for South Korea] is nothing but a “nuclear war plan.”
debkafile‘s military sources report that no official in Washington, Seoul or Tokyo can say whether the US and North Korea are heading for a naval clash, a limited air engagement or possibly a small incident that could get out of hand and blow up into a major encounter.
While ruling out a nuclear conflict, none of the three parties involved can promise tactical ordinance such as artillery shells and mines will not be used at some point.
The UN Security Council resolution of Friday, June 12 mandated sanctions, approved at Washington’s behest, that authorize UN member nations’ naval vessels to stop and search North Korean ships suspected of carrying nuclear materials.
Pyongyang said this measure would be deemed an act of war on the Korean peninsula and draw a “thousand fold” military retaliation.
However, at stake for the United States is a far larger issue, DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Washington sources report: It relates to America’s standing as the leading nuclear superpower and guardian of the global nuclear order. In this sense, the Korean crisis confronts Barack Obama with a supreme test as US president with major ramifications for the Iranian program.
This goes to the motivation behind Kim Jong-Il’s nuke-rattling, his decisions not only to unveil the appointment of his 26-year old son Kim Jong-Un as his successor, but most of all to take the lead in creating a bloc of nations willing to shake the United States on this pedestal.
Obama’s non-confrontational stance on the Iran crisis obliges him to apply muscle to the Security Council’s sanctions against Pyongyang – or lay himself open to criticism for being soft on both nuclear rogue states. This would disarm in advance any penalties the UN might impose on Iran for its nuclear violations.

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