Markings connect artillery shells, Cheonan torpedo
A North Korean marking reading “No. 1” was found on an artillery shell that was used in the attack on Yeonpyeong Island on Tuesday.
The South Korean Ministry of National Defense is saying that a similar hand-written mark appeared on a torpedo propeller shaft that Seoul believes the regime used to sink the South Korean navy vessel Cheonan in March, in which 46 sailors lost their lives.
The North has denied any involvement in the sinking of the Cheonan, while the South’s Defense Ministry is saying this is more evidence that refutes that denial.
The South Korean Defense Ministry revealed the remnants of an artillery shell it said it found on the island on Friday. Other hand-written marks on the shell read “1,” using the Arabic numeral.
“After carefully scrutinizing remnants and propellants of the North’s artillery shells from the island, the marking ‘1’ was found on the lower part of a 122-millimeter [4.8-inch] rocket,” an official at the Joint Chiefs of Staff said at a press briefing Friday night.
A source at the Defense Ministry said the marking was presumably written with a black marker. Other artillery shells collected by the ministry showed that they, too, had handwritten numbers, such as 5, 8, 35 and 88.
The probe into the sinking of the Cheonan in May revealed that the torpedo was marked with “1 beon” - using the Arabic numeral and a Korean word that means “number.”
Based on what it called “critical evidence,” including the “1 beon” mark on the torpedo, a South Korean investigation team concluded that the North torpedoed the Cheonan.
“The marking is consistent with the marking on another North Korean-built torpedo that the South obtained earlier,” the investigation team said.
South Korea found a light torpedo in 2003 in waters west of the peninsula that was marked with the number 4 and the Korean character “ho,” meaning “unit.”
South Korean experts have argued that the North Korean military puts numbers on its weapons to classify components when they assemble the complete weapon.
North Korea, however, claims it has never used handwritten numbers when creating munition components.
South Korean Defense Ministry officials said the North’s position loses credibility because hand-written numbers were found on artillery shells that the North admitted it fired on Yeonpyeong Island.
“The newly-discovered remnants of artillery shells now put an end to the controversy that the markings on the torpedo that sank the Cheonan were fabricated,” an official at the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. “The North just dug its own grave with the Yeonpyeong provocation.”
By Lee Young-jong, Jeong Yong-soo [firstname.lastname@example.org]