On April 15, the stern of the South Korean patrol ship Cheonan was lifted from the ocean floor, where it settled three weeks ago following a mysterious explosion that killed 46 sailors. Because the ship sank near a maritime border between North and South Korea that has been the scene of earlier clashes between the two nations' navies, there are strong suspicions that the Cheonan may have been sunk in a deliberate attack. U.S., Swedish, Australian and South Korean investigators are currently on scene trying to discover the cause of the explosion. This week we're asking: What should be done if investigators indeed determine that North Korea deliberately sank the Cheonan?
Can such an aggressive attack go unanswered? What military options, if any, would you endorse in response to the sinking? It is well-known that North Korea has hundreds of artillery tubes near the DMZ whose shells can hit Seoul, for instance, so can South Korea and the United States risk a military response that could escalate into all-out war? How does the fact that Pyongyang now possesses nuclear weapons play into such a strategic calculation? With the United States depending on China to endorse a tougher round of sanctions on Iran, how might a U.S. or South Korean response affect Sino-American relations? Given Pyongyang's already severe isolation, are there any diplomatic tools that could be employed to punish North Korea? Would you consider a naval embargo as a possible response? Finally, what are the drawbacks of essentially doing nothing other than issuing strong diplomatic condemnations?