SEOUL, April 29 (UPI) -- Seoul and Washington have few options in responding to the sinking of a South Korean ship, even if North Korea sank the ship, a Washington Post editorial says.
The warship went down March 26 near the maritime border with the North, leaving more than 40 sailors dead. North Korea has denied responsibility but the South Korean defense ministry says a torpedo likely caused the vessel to sink.
While hard evidence has yet to be found, the Post editorial Thursday said the "real problem of concluding that North Korea did what it almost certainly did is that neither (South Korean President Lee Myung-bak) nor the (administration of U.S. President Barack Obama) has good ideas for how to respond.
"Military retaliation would risk a devastating war on the Korean Peninsula. Asking the U.N. Security Council for more sanctions against the (North Korean) regime of Kim Jong Il would require the consent of China, which will not easily be persuaded. And unilateral sanctions by South Korea, such as closing an industrial area where Southern firms employ thousands of Northern workers, could make the North still more dependent on China, which already controls 70 percent of its trade."
Whatever decisions or actions Lee might take, the editorial said North Korea "is likely to survive so long as China continues to prop it up."
The report said China, which wants to continue the status quo on the Korean Peninsula, may not withdraw support to Kim anytime soon.
"That means, in turn, that Mr. Kim has a good chance at getting away with murder -- which is probably what he calculated all along," the editorial said.