Washington roundly condemned the North Korean Nov. 23 artillery attack on the populated South Koreanislandof Yeonpyeong on the Yellow Sea border, calling on North Korea to halt its belligerent action and abide by the terms of the 1953 armistice agreement. But the Obama administration was clearly not about to meet Japanese pressure for joint military action in support of Seoul or reinforce its fighting forces on the peninsula – even as a deterrent. Two South Korean marines were killed and 17 soldiers and 3 civilians injured as the flames engulfed the targeted island.
A Pentagon spokesman also said it was too early to discuss redeploying US tactical nuclear arms to South Korea, a possibility raised by South Korea's Defense Minister Kim Tae-young Monday when North Korea's parade of its uranium enrichment and light water plants came to light.
The Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan's second demand in his call to President Barak Obama after the North Korean attack was to convene an urgent UN Security Council meeting. That too went unheeded. The session France announced would take place Tuesday night was indefinitely postponed.
The Japanese prime minister maintained to Obama that North Korea must not be allowed to get away with two armed attacks on the South in the space of eight months without a military response. On March 26, North Korean torpedoes sunk the South Korean Cheonan cruiser. At least 46 seamen were lost.
debkafile's military sources reports fears that if no penalty is exacted from Pyongyang for its belligerent behavior, it will be encouraged to continue striking South Korea.
Although it is pressing its advantage, issuing a terse warning that If South Korea intrudes into its territorial waters "even 0.001 millimeters, the revolutionary armed forces of [North Korea] will unhesitatingly continue taking merciless military counteractions against it."
The statement from the North's top military command was aired by state media.
South Korea "should bear in mind the solemn warning of the revolutionary armed forces that they do not make empty talk," it said.
debkafile's military sources report that US Seventh Fleet headquarters at Yokosuka in Japan, together with the naval forces stationed there including the USS George Washington aircraft carrier. They have been covering South Korea's massive annual military exercises involving some 70,000 troops scheduled to last from Monday through Nov. 30.
Our sources add that closely in tune with Pyongyang, Tehran will be encouraged by the Obama administration's inaction against North Korea to greater pugnacity against Israel whose position in the Middle East Iran sees as akin to that of South Korea in the Far East. Both are regarded in Iran as tied hand and foot by Washington and therefore in no position to defend themselves without the US sayso.
Earlier, debkafile report that Obama's lack of response to the Japanese call, despite the presence of 28,000 US troops on the Korean Demilitarized Zone border – even with limited military action – is bound to devalue the defensive umbrella against North Korea the US has pledged South Korea and Japan. US unresponsiveness is already resonating loudly in the Middle East and Persian Gulf which is beginning to take it as betokening feeble resolve in dealing with Iran and its nuclear weapons aspirations.