South Korea’s formal accusation that a North Korean torpedo sank one of its warships, killing 46 sailors, will set off a diplomatic drumbeat to punish North Korea, backed by the United States and other nations, which could end up in the UN Security Council.
On Thursday in Seoul, the South Korean government presented forensic evidence, including part of a torpedo propeller with what investigators believe is a North Korean serial number.
They said it proved that the underwater explosion that shattered the 1,200-tonne corvette, the Cheonan, in March near a disputed sea border with the North was caused by the detonation of a torpedo.
On Monday, South Korea is expected to push for the case to be referred to the UN, and the US plans to back Seoul “strongly and unequivocally,” according to Obama administration officials.
The investigation “points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that North Korea was responsible for this attack,” the White House said in a statement after the report was released in Seoul. “This act of aggression is one more instance of North Korea’s unacceptable behavior and defiance of international law.”
The big question, the officials said, is whether China, North Korea’s neighbour and a veto-wielding member of the Security Council, will go along with yet another international condemnation of the North.
North threatens war
North Korea dismissed the findings as a fabrication and warned that it would wage “all-out war” if it were punished.