<font color="maroon" size=2><b>[Breaking News]</b></font><br>Evidence shows North torpedo sunk Cheonan

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[Breaking News]
Evidence shows North torpedo sunk Cheonan


국방부가 20일 공개한 천안함 인양 당시의 모습. 좌현의 강력한 충격으로 인해 좌현 선체가 뒤틀리고, 상부 보강재는 오른쪽으로 밀려있는 상태다. 사진제공=국방부

A North Korean torpedo was responsible for sinking the South Korean Navy warship Cheonan in the western waters south of the inter-Korean maritime border, South Korea’s Defense Ministry announced today.

The ministry said a team of South Korean, American, Australian, Canadian and British intelligence authorities concluded that a small North Korean submarine was responsible for firing the torpedo at the patrol-combat corvette on March 26.

The underwater explosion, only 6 to 9 meters (20-30 feet) below the ship, caused a bubble jet whose shock waves tore the Cheonan in two and sent it to the bottom.

“A North Korean-manufactured torpedo that carried a 250-kologram [551-pound] warhead is confirmed to be responsible for the explosion,” the ministry said.

The decisive evidence was torpedo fragments collected from the sinking site. The propeller of the torpedo was recently recovered and a North Korean marking was on it, the ministry said. The marking read “1 Beon” using the Arabic numeral and the Korean letter that means number.

The recovered components were identical to the designs of a North Korean sonar-tracking torpedo depicted on an arms export catalog of the communist regime.

The experts also based their conclusion on analysis of evidence collected from the site of the sinking, the hull of the salvaged ship, postmortem
examinations of the dead sailors, seismic waves, simulation of underwater explosions and currents near the sinking site, the ministry said.

North Korea has denied involvement in the sinking as recently as this week, when its vice parliamentary speaker Yang Hyong Sop criticized Seoul for "unreasonably" linking Pyongyang to the sinking, according to Pyongyang's state radio station.

But “There is no other plausible explanation” than that the North was behind the disaster, the joint civilian and military investigation report said.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has vowed stern action against the culprits and discussed the matter by phone with President Barack Obama and
Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

The top U.S. diplomat for Asia, Kurt Campbell, said yesterday that the "United States strongly supports [the report’s] conclusions." Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, said the findings meant the U.S. and its allies will be facing "a very serious set of circumstances in the coming days."

The U.S. response will be a central issue during Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's upcoming trip to Asia, Campbell said. Clinton leaves Washington today for talks in Japan, China and South Korea.

"The United States supports South Korea unequivocally and strongly," Campbell said, adding that Clinton would be consulting closely with China, Japan and South Korea on how to answer the attack.

Analysts predict the U.S. and South Korea will step up their anti-submarine activities while Seoul may on its own bar North Korean vessels from its waters. The South may also deliver a powerful economic blow by cutting of imports of North Korean commodities, particularly fish products, that would badly hurt the North's desperate economy.

But looming over the discussions is concern that a harsh reaction could escalate tensions to the point of clashes. There is also concern an aggressive response could trigger the collapse of what is arguably the world's most isolated and authoritarian regime, U.S. officials said.

The Pentagon and American intelligence agencies fear the situation could develop into one in which Kim Jong il's government, already under heavy economic strain, loses control, the officials said, on condition of anonymity.

Material from the Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.

By Ser Myo-ja[ myoja@joongang.co.kr]
Related Korean Article

`천안함 침몰 원인은 북한 250㎏급 어뢰` 합동조사단 공식 발표

천안함 침몰 원인을 조사해 온 민ㆍ군 합동조사단은 20일 “천안함은 북한제 어뢰에 의한 외부 수중 폭발의 결과로 침몰됐다는 결론”이라고 공식 발표했다. 이날 오전 10시 국방부 대회의실에서 열린 기자회견에서다.

합동조사단은 공격에 사용된 어뢰는 북한의 소형 잠수함정에서 발사된 250㎏급 감응어뢰 ‘CHD-02D’라고 지목했다. 15일 침몰 해역에서 수거된 어뢰 프로펠러 등을 결정적 증거로 내세웠다.

합동조사단은 “서해의 북한 해군기지에서 운용되던 일부 소형 잠수함정과 이를 지원하는 모선이 천안함 공격 2~3일 전에 서해 북한 해군기지를 이탈했다가, 공격 2~3일 후에 기지로 복귀한 것이 확인됐다”며 “증거들을 종합해 볼 때 어뢰는 북한 소형 잠수함정으로부터 발사됐다는 것 외에 달리 설명할 수가 없다”고 발표했다.

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