President Barack Obama fully supports Republic of Korea President Lee Myung-Bak in his response to the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel by a North Korean submarine in March. In a statement released May 24, the White House said the measures announced by the Republic of Korea "are called for and entirely appropriate" and South Korea "can continue to count on the full support of the United States."
On March 26, an explosion ripped the 1,200-ton South Korean corvette in half and it sank in about 40 meters of water near the disputed western sea border between North Korea and South Korea. Fifty-eight sailors were saved, but tragically, 46 were killed.
Experts from South Korea, the United States, Britain, Sweden and Australia conducted an inquiry to determine the cause of the explosion. Fragments of a torpedo propeller with North Korean markings were found near the site of sinking on the ocean floor, and investigators found traces of the explosive RDX, which is used in naval mines and torpedoes.
In response to this unprovoked attack, President Lee demands that North Korea immediately apologize and punish those responsible for the attack. Most importantly, North Korea must cease its aggressive and belligerent behavior. The United States endorses South Korea's response.
President Lee announced that the Republic of Korea intends to bring the issue to the United Nations Security Council. The United States also supports this move. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.S. Ambassador to the U-N Susan Rice are consulting very closely with their Korean counterparts, as well as with Japan, China, Russia, and other U-N Security Council member states in order to reach agreement on the steps in the Council.
In response to the pattern of North Korean provocation and defiance of international law, President Obama has directed U.S. government agencies to review their existing authorities and policies related to North Korea. This review is aimed at ensuring that we have adequate measures in place and to identify areas where adjustments would be appropriate.
The United States will continue to work with the Republic of Korea and other allies and partners to reduce the threat that North Korea poses to regional stability.