North Korea threatened to continue "merciless" strikes on South Korea on Tuesday after the communist state launched a deadly artillery attack across their western sea border.
S. Korea may strike N. Korea's missile base: President Lee
President Lee Myung-bak ordered his military Tuesday to strike North Korea's missile base around its coastline artillery positions if it shows signs of additional provocation, his spokeswoman said.
In a video conference with Gen. Han Min-koo, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the president ordered "multiple-fold retaliation" against the North for its artillery attack on a South Korean island, according to presidential spokeswoman Kim Hee-jung.
N Korea Warns of More Attacks After Clashes
North Korea has warned it will continue to launch attacks if the South violates its disputed sea border and blamed Seoul for starting major clashes that killed two soldiers.
The US State Department said it will talk with China to develop a "measured and unified" response to North Korea's artillery attack on a South Korean island.
"These are disputed waters. This is the area where earlier this year a South Korean battleship was sunk, apparently by a North Korean torpedo. The North Koreans deny that.
"And last month, fire was returned across the demilitarised zone, the strip of land that divides North Korea and South Korea.
"But this is different. Civilians are involved. It is bigger in scale than the skirmishes we normally see."
And an update from Debka:
Washington spurns Tokyo's demand for reprisal against North Korea
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 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.
The main question at this point, is whether or not this will escalate further. If it does, then it will inch ever so close to outright war. Where that could lead is anyone's guess.