North Korea warns of war if punished for ship sinking
SEOUL, 20 MAY: Tensions deepened today on the Korean peninsula as South Korea accused North Korea of firing a torpedo that sank a naval warship, killing 46 sailors in the country's worst military disaster since the Korean War.
President Lee Myung-bak vowed “stern action” for the provocation following the release of long-awaited results from a multinational investigation into the 26 March sinking near the Koreas' tense maritime border.
North Korea, reacting swiftly, called the results a fabrication, and warned that any retaliation would trigger war. It continued to deny involvement in the sinking of the warship Cheonan.
“If the (South Korean) enemies try to deal any retaliation or punishment, or if they try sanctions or a strike on us .... we will answer to this with all-out war,” Col. Pak In Ho of North Korea's navy told broadcaster APTN in an exclusive interview in Pyongyang.
An international civilian-military investigation team said evidence overwhelmingly proves a North Korean submarine fired a homing torpedo that caused a massive underwater blast that tore the Cheonan apart.
Fifty-eight sailors were rescued from the frigid Yellow Sea waters, but 46 perished.
Since the 1950-53 war on the Korean peninsula ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty, the two Koreas remain locked in a state of war and divided by the world's most heavily armed border.
Re: North Korea warns of war if punished for ship sinking
South Korea says it will make North Korea pay for sinking ship
SEOUL: Seoul's defence chief vowed today to make North Korea pay for sinking a South Korean warship as international outrage grew over the attack that claimed 46 lives.
"North Korea surpassed the limits and for such an act we will make it pay," said defence minister Kim Tae-Young.
President Lee Myung-Bak separately described the March 26 torpedo attack on a 1,200-corvette as a breach of the armistice which ended the 1950-53 war, but said Seoul's response would be prudent.
Condemnation of Pyongyang has intensified since, a multinational investigation team announced yesterday that a submarine from the North fired a heavy torpedo which split the Cheonan in two.
"This was a serious provocation. There will definitely be consequences," US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said on Thursday.
The communist North, for the second time in two days, denied involvement and accused Seoul of faking the evidence. It has threatened "all-out war" in response to any attempt to punish it.
Investigators said parts of a torpedo salvaged from the sea bed match those used by the North.
The defence ministry today put the salvaged propellors and other items on display inside a glass case during a briefing to back up its claims.
Experts pointed out similarities between the salvaged weaponry and a blueprint the North has used when exporting such torpedoes. They said explosive residue found on the weaponry matched that on the warship's hull.
A top military intelligence official said the North apparently launched the attack in revenge for a firefight near the disputed border last November which left a North Korean patrol boat in flames.
The aim was "to restore honour to the military and boost its morale", said the director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, Lt Gen Hwang Won-Dong.