But North Korea experts in Seoul noted that the warnings did not intend to corner Pyongyang for good. The address intentionally left room for future concessions by not specifically naming North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il in the statement.
"If we pointed the finger directly at Kim Jong-Il, that would have been a point of no return because from their point of view, that is non-negotiable," professor Koh said.
Now, analysts said, there is still room for North Korea to take a step back by blaming the torpedo attack on its overzealous naval forces and say they actually shot the South Korean submarine without specific endorsement from Pyongyang.
ABC News' Clarissa Ward and Laura Greene contributed to the reporting of this story from Beijing and Washington D.C.