The South has said that the warship, the Cheonan, was likely struck by a torpedo or a sea mine. It broke in two after the mysterious explosion March 26 and sank, killing 46 sailors, while 58 were rescued. Suspicion in the South has widely fallen on North Korea, which has denied responsibility. The hostile neighbors, technically still at war, have fought several naval skirmishes along their disputed maritime border.
Lee now appears to be casting the incident as an international issue.
He pledged “firm and definite” action once the international investigation of the explosion is concluded. Lee has avoided talking of a military strike, and Reuters reports that South Korea will likely refer the North to the United Nations Security Council if it decides that Pyongyang was responsible.
Ralph Cossa, head of the Pacific Forum CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) in Honolulu, argues in an opinion piece in the South Korean newspaper The Korea Times that if the issue is referred to the UN Security Council and North Korea is found responsible, the response should go beyond simply levying more sanctions.