In the News – Lee vows to retaliate against N. Korea if provoked
SEOUL, March 26 (Yonhap) — President Lee Myung-bak said Monday that South Korea will thoroughly retaliate against North Korea if provoked again, amid rising tensions over Pyongyang’s plan to launch a long-range rocket in defiance of international warnings.
North Korea has recently threatened to launch a “sacred war” against South Korea over Seoul’s defamation of the dignity of its new leader Kim Jong-un and his late father, Kim Jong-il.
The communist country has also warned it will take the “strongest countermeasures which no one can imagine” if South Korea “dares find fault with its nuclear deterrent and satellite launch” at an international nuclear summit under way in Seoul.
South Korea will “thoroughly retaliate against North Korea” if Pyongyang provokes it, Lee said in a video message to a music concert in Seoul marking the second anniversary of the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship blamed on the North.
Forty-six South Korean sailors were killed in the sinking of the Cheonan near the two Koreas’ western sea border in March 2010, heightening tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
A team of multinational investigators concluded in 2010 that a North Korean torpedo was responsible for the sinking. However, the North still adamantly denies its involvement.
The North also shelled a South Korean western border island in November 2010, an attack that killed two marines and two civilians and sent inter-Korean relations to one of their lowest levels in decades.
South Korea has since strengthened its defense posture and repeatedly pledged to retaliate against the communist country if provoked again.
On Friday, Lee visited the National Cemetery in the central city of Daejeon to pay his respects to the dead soldiers.
In Daejeon, Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik, dressed in a dark blue suit and black tie, burned incense and bowed before the altar where framed portraits of the victims were placed. Some relatives of the victims wiped tears from their eyes during the ceremony in the cemetery.
The ceremony came amid heightened tensions over North Korea’s plan to launch a rocket next month to put a satellite into orbit as part of its peaceful space program.
South Korea, the United States and other regional powers suspect the rocket launch could be a disguised test of the North’s ballistic missile technology that is banned under a 2009 U.N. resolution.
South Korea said Monday it will shoot down a North Korean rocket booster if it veers off its normal trajectory.
U.S. President Barack Obama warned Monday that “there will be no rewards for provocations,” in an apparent reference to Pyongyang’s planned rocket launch.
Also Monday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev strongly denounced the planned rocket launch, saying Pyongyang should first care about feeding its people before launching a missile, according to a South Korean official. Medvedev made the remarks during summit talks with South Korean President Lee.
Obama and Medvedev are in Seoul to attend a two-day international nuclear summit.
Original article can be found here.