News / Asia

North Korea: Military Action Possible If UN Blames Pyongyang for Ship Attack

North Korea's U.N. ambassador is warning his government's military could respond if the U.N. Security Council takes action against Pyongyang for the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan.  

North Korea's U.N. Ambassador Sin Son Ho said the sinking of the Cheonan had nothing to do with his government.  He said he does not want to see the Security Council take "any measures provoking or inciting" Pyongyang.  He added his government would categorically reject any "document" the Security Council issued against North Korea.

Asked what Pyongyang's response would be to additional sanctions or a Security Council statement condemning the regime for the sinking, he said the answer would be in the hands of the military.

"I am diplomat, ambassador and permanent representative.  I don't have any guns in my hands.  You know, if the Security Council release any documents against us, condemning or questioning us in any document, then myself as a diplomat, I can do nothing.  But the follow-up measures will be carried out by our military forces," he said.

Asked to clarify he replied. "If any action is taken by Security Council against us, I lose my job. (laughter) The military will have its own job.  I mean follow-up."

Reporter interrupts: "Do you expect any military action in case?"

"That is, that is, I gave you the answer.  You can prejudge what is the meaning I have told you," said the ambassador.  

Asked if North Korea would rule out the use of nuclear weapons as part of any possible military retaliation, Ambassador Sin said such weapons are his country's "deterrent" because it is always "threatened by outside forces."

During a lengthy statement the North Korean diplomat reiterated his government's innocence in the attack that killed 46 South Korean sailors. It is one of the most deadly incidents involving the two Koreas since the end of the Korean War in 1953 and has significantly raised tensions on the peninsula, especially since South Korea released a 400-page report last month blaming the North for the torpedo attack.

Ambassador Sin repeatedly said his government wants to be allowed to send its own investigation team to the site where the Cheonan sank, despite the fact that the area has been cleared of the ship, torpedo and other debris.

He said the ship may have sunk because it became grounded on rocks.  He also appeared to blame South Korea, saying the sinking was designed to "evade responsibility" for the deterioration of inter-Korea relations.

And the United States came in for criticism for its alliance with Seoul, with the envoy saying the two allies "cooked up" the story for political purposes.  He said it was a "foolish attempt" to drive a wedge between China and North Korea, which he said have "excellent relations."

While the North Korean ambassador questioned the motives of other countries and the way in which the investigation was conducted, he offered no substantive evidence to vindicate Pyongyang.

On Monday, the U.N. Security Council held its first informal discussion of the sinking, at which both Koreas made separate presentations.  Diplomats said Seoul's presentation was "very convincing,'' but that there was nothing on the North Korean side, just "allegations, accusations, no science.''

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