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UN Security Council Takes Up Cheonan Sinking

  • Margaret Besheer

South Korea told the U.N. Security Council Monday that the evidence proves North Korea sank its warship Cheonan in March, killing 46 sailors. Pyongyang again denied the allegations, saying it is "a victim" of a "fraud and forgery" perpetrated by Seoul.

In a statement, the Security Council said it is "gravely concerned" about the incident and its repercussions for peace and security on the Korean peninsula. The council called on the parties to refrain from any act that could escalate tensions.

At the informal session, the two parties made separate presentations behind closed doors to the 15-member council. South Korea spoke first, offering a half-hour presentation that included a seven minute video.

Yoon Duk Yong co-chairs the South Korean civilian and military investigation into the sinking. He told reporters that the South explained evidence showing the Cheonan was sunk by a torpedo launched from a North Korean submarine.

"We identified the torpedo as a North Korean CHT02D on the basis of our recovered piece of the torpedo - which was the propulsion part, including two propellers, a shaft, steering plates and a motor," said Yoon Duk Yong. "We hope on the basis of these findings the Security Council will take timely and appropriate measures against the provocation of North Korea against the naval ship of the Republic of Korea."

Yoon said experts from the United States, Britain, Canada, Sweden and Australia, who assisted in the investigation, were also present and answered questions from Security Council members.

North Korea's deputy representative Pak Tok Hun told reporters on his way into the meeting that Pyongyang is innocent.

"We have nothing to do with that," said Pak Tok Hun. "We are just a victim. So we would like to make our position clear."

He added that Pyongyang would explain its case publicly on Tuesday at a news conference at the United Nations.

Japan's Ambassador Yukio Takasu told reporters that that the South Korean presentation was scientific, technical and very convincing.

"In other words, there is no other explanation that the sinking of the Cheonan, a South Korean naval ship, was done other than this torpedo attack fired by North Korean submarine," said Yukio Takasu. "We asked all kinds of possible explanations. But all the other theoretical possibilities have been eliminated to the satisfaction of many of us."

Takasu said many members feel there is strong evidence for the council to take action. Other diplomats said that Russia and China did not express their opinions during the session.

The Japanese ambassador said the North Korean presentation had very little substance. He noted that the North merely said they were the victims and should be allowed to visit the site of the sunken ship and conduct their own investigation. But Takasu said there was no convincing reason why they should do that, especially because the area had been searched and cleared more two months ago. He added that the Security Council would continue consultations on the appropriate response to the attack.

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