North Korea Warns Of Consequences If U.N. Condemns Attack On South Korean Warship

More bluster from the Pyongyang regime:

UNITED NATIONS — North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations said Tuesday that his country’s military would respond forcefully to any Security Council condemnation over the sinking of a South Korean warship, warning that “our people and army will smash our aggressors.”

In a rare news conference, the envoy, Sin Son-ho, called the South Korean investigation carried out with a number of foreign experts, which concluded that a North Korean torpedo blew up the ship, “a complete fabrication from A to Z.”

Mr. Sin demanded that a team from his country’s military be allowed to carry out its own investigation on the site where the ship, known as the Cheonan, exploded on March 26, killing 46 sailors.

“If the Security Council releases any documents against us condemning or questioning us, then myself, as diplomat, I can do nothing,” Mr. Sin said, “but the follow-up measures will be carried out by our military forces.”

Mr. Sin, while stating that he was there to clarify, not accuse, said that all the countries involved had ulterior motives that might have played a role in the crisis. The United States used the episode to overcome demands by Japan that it remove its military base from Okinawa, he argued, while the South Korean government sought to foment a crisis atmosphere in the prelude to provincial elections.

He also questioned technical details of the investigation at length, calling the fact that a fisherman found the torpedo supposedly carrying North Korean markings after a naval search had yielded nothing something out of “Aesop’s fables.” He repeated statements from his nation’s leaders that the ship might have run aground or exploded because of faulty mechanics.

In Washington, the State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley, rejected the accusations out of hand. “North Korea unfortunately has put together a string of provocative actions, from missile firings to a nuclear test to the sinking of the Cheonan,” he told reporters. “What is important for North Korea is to take stock of these provocative actions, cease this belligerent behavior, and if they do, we will respond appropriately.”

At the United Nations, the United States and Japan were pushing ahead with what is likely to be a resolution condemning the attack, said Security Council diplomats. No member had staunchly opposed the move so far, so Council action could come either this week or next, diplomats said.

The X factor in this, of course, is what the Chinese might do and whether they’d exercise their veto on the Security Council. At the very least, it seems clear that Bejing will not go along with new sanctions against it’s quixotic neighbor, but it seems difficult to believe that the Chinese would put their own international prestige on the line to prevent even a pro forma condemnation of an attack that, under any other circumstances, would be considered an act of war. In the end, what we’re likely to get is a milquetoast condemnation with no teeth.

As for the North Korean threats, this bellicose stance is probably more closely related to the succession issues I wrote about a few weeks ago than to any real intention by Pyongyang to start Korean War II.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Mr. Prosser says:

    The actions and posturing of the NKs still mystify me. How loyal is the military to the Kim family? It is to the military leaders’ advantage to keep the peninsula divided but is it to their advantage to maintain the Kim dynasty? What is the possibility of a coup which would bring in a junta which would be at least a bit more open to outside aid in trade offs for easing the nuclear program, etc?

  2. We must ask ourselves again, why do they hate us?

  3. Steffan says:

    I think China is more worried about what will happen when it hits the fan in NK. Kim will probably die in bed, and when that happens the whole house of cards is likely to collapse, with China and South Korea left to pick up the pieces. The South Koreans are very aware of what reunification cost the Germans, and NK is nowhere near in as good a shape as the DDR was.

    NK is already a humanitarian disaster. It’s about to become a catastrophe.