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    » 04/22/2010, 00.00

    KOREA

    For South Korea, a torpedo from the North sank the ship

    Joseph Yun Li-sun

    A source tells AsiaNews, “North Korea has a team of kamikaze on manned torpedoes, trained to attack South Korean warships. However, the United States hopes that the North can be brought back to the nuclear disarmament table. For this reason, no formal charges will be made.”

    Seoul (AsiaNews) – South Korea's military believes a torpedo fired from a North Korean submarine sank its navy ship last month. Alternatively, a suicide commando on a manned torpedo could have carried out the operation that sank ROKS Cheonan, a South Korean Navy corvette, on 26 March in the waters of the Yellow Sea, killing 46 sailors on board, this according to South Korean military sources.

    “North Korean submarines are all armed with heavy torpedoes with 200kg warheads," the military source said in a report to the government. "It is the military intelligence's assessment that the North attacked with a heavy torpedo.”

    The report is based on intelligence gathered jointly by South Korea and the United States

    The cause of the incident has never officially determined. Initially, a torpedo launched by North Korea was blamed. The area where the warship was sunk has seen clashes in the past between the navies of the two Korean states. Another explanation is that the explosion might have been caused by a North Korean mine, possibly from the Korean War, or, alternatively, an internal blast causing a structural collapse in the ship.

    After the stern was raised, experts said that the cause of the disaster was an external explosion, thus reviving eaerly reports about an attack from North Korea. However, North Korea has rejected any blame.

    On Monday, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak told the nation in a tearful speech on television that he would find the “cause of the Cheonan's sinking in full and in detail”. He did not however mentioned North Korea.

    The incident comes at a time of heightened tensions between the two Koreas. The six-nation talks on North Korean disarmament have been stalled since 2008, whilst intra-Korean negotiations are going nowhere, especially since South Korea and the United States conducted joint military exercises. Statements by top US and South Korean officials about emergency scenarios for South Korea, the United States and China in case of a collapse of North Korea’s Communist regime have not helped either.

    Probably this fear, a Korean source told AsiaNews, is the real reason “that will stop any real inquiry into the sinking. Washington is still hoping to bring Pyongyang back to the negotiating table, and an open accusation by Seoul would bury that hope forever.”

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    See also

    24/05/2010 KOREA
    Beijing, peace on the Korean Peninsula and the yuan
    Only the Chinese government “can stop Pyongyang”, a source tells AsiaNews. “However, Beijing is more likely to trade peace on the peninsula for a truce in the yuan war. Sanctions are useful but they will hit a whole people already tried by crisis.”

    14/09/2005 NORTH KOREA
    Still uncertainty at six-nation nuclear talks


    30/07/2010 KOREA – UNITED STATES
    Third round of talks between the United Nations and North Korea over ROKS Cheonan
    The US-led UN Command that oversees the 1953 armistice met North Korean military officers in the DMZ. The sinking of a NOKS corvette that killed 46 South Korean sailors is still unsolved.

    24/07/2008 NORTH KOREA
    For Rice talks with Pyongyang on nuclear issue “positive”
    In her first meeting with North Korea’s foreign minister US secretary of state reiterates the need for verification of the atomic disarmament process.

    22/12/2006 NORTH - SOUTH KOREA
    Seoul denounces suspected nuclear activity in North Korea
    An opposition MP reported frenetic activity in a tunnel near Mount Mantap, where the regime carried out its first nuclear test on 9 October. In Beijing, six-party talks on nuclear disarmament have been fruitless.



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