South Korea Accuses North Of Sinking Navy Ship

25korea-cnd-articleLargeAfter dancing around the issue of blame for two months, today South Korea formally accused the North Koreans of sinking a South Korean warship:

South Korea will formally blame North Korea on Thursday for launching a torpedo at one of its warships in March, causing an explosion that killed 46 sailors and heightened tensions in one of the world’s most perilous regions, U.S. and East Asian officials said.

South Korea reached its conclusion that North Korea was responsible for the attack after investigators from Australia, Britain, Sweden and the United States pieced together portions of the ship at the port of Pyongtaek, 40 miles southwest of Seoul. The Cheonan sank on March 26, following an explosion that rocked the vessel as it sailed in the Yellow Sea off South Korea’s west coast.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because South Korea has yet to disclose the findings of the investigation, said that subsequent analysis determined that the torpedo was identical to a North Korean torpedo that had previously been obtained by South Korea.

South Korea’s conclusion underscores the continuing threat posed by North Korea and the intractable nature of the dispute between the two Koreas. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak must respond forcefully to the attack, analysts said, but not in a way that would risk further violence from North Korea, whose artillery could — within minutes — devastate greater Seoul, which has a population of 20.5 million.

South Korea’s report will also present a challenge to China and other nations. China waited almost a month to express its condolences to South Korea for the loss of life, and, analysts and officials said, has seemed at pains to protect North Korea from criticism.

South Korea will request that the U.N. Security Council take up the issue and is looking to tighten sanctions on North Korea, the officials said

Given the United Nations’ inability to stop Pyongyang from obtaining nuclear weapons, one wonders what good they’ll be in this situation.

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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. Doug,

    In fairness to the UN, they have no real power and the one thing they might be able to do – sanctions – probably would be ineffective. Really, how much worse can things get for North Korea? The place is a wasteland as it is.

  2. floyd says:

    Is that thing just photoshopped, or are they making miniature battleships, or what?
    Very strange picture, I’d like to see more shots.
    It doesn’t even look rigged right.

  3. Floyd

    That is an actual picture of the front end of the Chonsen as it was lifted from the ocean floor a few weeks ago

  4. Franklin says:

    Really, how much worse can things get for North Korea? The place is a wasteland as it is.

    An article on the Christian Science Monitor suggested that this attack was *because* things are getting (even more) desperate.

    I don’t know a whole lot about the situation, but it sure seems like North Korea is going to re-start the war one way or another. I believe Christopher Hitchens agrees; it’s going to happen, but when?

    And then there’s the Chinese wildcard.

  5. Franklin,

    I wouldn’t call myself an expert on the Koreas, but I’m not sure that the North is really looking to restart the war.

    What they are looking for, what they’ve been looking for all along I think, is leverage they can use to get the aid they need to survive.

    That’s not saying they wouldn’t launch an attack. When you’re dealing with a regime like this, I wouldn’t rule anything out. However, I think that what the world really needs to be planning for, rather than war at the 38th parallel, is the chaos that would follow if the Pyongyang regime were to suddenly collapse.

  6. Franklin says:

    … is the chaos that would follow if the Pyongyang regime were to suddenly collapse.

    Okay. I guess I’m not sure in what way it would collapse without Kim Jong-Il (or sons) lashing out. From what I’ve read, almost everybody there is brainwashed to support their dear leader no matter what, so it doesn’t seem like an internal coup would be very successful, and would be blamed on South Korea regardless.