GMT, Thursday, 20 May 2010 21:06 UK
The wreckage of the naval vessel Cheonan, 20 May, South Korea The shattered wreck of the Cheonan was winched to the surface in two pieces
The US state department says there “will definitely be consequences” for North Korea following the sinking of a South Korean warship in March.
The North is facing international condemnation after investigators blamed it for the sinking of the ship, in which 46 sailors died.
Pyongyang has rejected the claim as a “fabrication” and threatened war if sanctions were imposed.
China urged restraint and did not criticise the North.
The report – by a team including experts from the US, Australia, Britain and Sweden – concluded that a torpedo had sunk the Cheonan corvette.
The investigators said parts of the torpedo found on the sea floor had lettering that matched a North Korean design.
READ THE REPORT IN FULL
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PDF download Investigation result on the sinking of Cheonan[72KB]
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Excerpts: Ship sinking report
“Clearly this was a serious provocation by North Korea and there will definitely be consequences,” said US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley.
The US has some 28,000 troops stationed in the South following the 1950-53 Korean War.
Defence Secretary Robert Gates said the US was in “close consultation” with South Korea, which would decide what action to take.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has pledged to take “stern action”.
Britain, Australia and Japan also expressed anger at North Korea. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the report was “deeply troubling”.
Pyongyang has said it would send its own inspection team to the South, to “verify material evidence” behind the accusation.
NORTH KOREAN ATTACKS
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* Jan 1967 – attacks South Korean warship near border, killing 39 sailors
* Jan 1968 – commandos storm presidential palace in Seoul in a failed attempt to kill President Park Chung-hee
* Jan 1968 – captures USS Pueblo – one crew member dies and 82 held hostage for 11 months
* Dec 1969 – hijacks South Korean airliner taking dozens of passengers hostage
* Oct 1983 – bombs hotel in Rangoon, Burma in failed attempt to kill South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan – 21 people die
* Nov 1987 – bombs South Korean airliner, killing 115
* Sept 1996 – North Korean submarine crew land in South, sparking deadly manhunt
* Mar 2010 – torpedoes Cheonan warship, 46 sailors killed
Attack leaves no easy options How the ship was sunk Timeline: North Korean attacks Q&A: Cheonan sinking Send us your comments
A North Korean defence spokesman said the country would “respond to reckless counter-measure with an all-out war of justice”, the state KCNA news agency reported.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said Beijing had “noted” the report and would also make its own assessment, but called on both sides to exercise restraint.
South Korea’s Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chun Young-woo, said Seoul was considering taking the matter to the UN Security Council.
“The Security Council will consider what is necessary as a response to North Korea’s act of aggression,” he told the BBC. “North Korea cannot get away from this.”
The Cheonan went down near the disputed inter-Korean maritime border, raising tension between the two nations which technically remain at war.
Earlier, a number of explanations had been suggested for the sinking – including an accidental collision with an unexploded sea mine left over from the Korean War.
Source: Press Tv
South Korean and US troops go on higher alert amid Pyongyang’s threats of ‘a powerful strike’ and growing fears of a full-scale war in the peninsula.
“As of 7:15 am Thursday (2215 GMT Wednesday), the US-South Korea Combined Forces Command upgraded Watch Conditions by a notch to Stage Two,” Seoul’s Defense Ministry said in a statement released on Thursday.
“Surveillance over the North will be stepped up, with more aircraft and personnel mobilized,” AFP quoted spokesman Won Tae-Jae as saying.
The remarks come in response to North Korea’s Wednesday announcement, saying it was withdrawing from the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.
The North also warned that it could launch a military offensive on the South as it faced further pressure over test-firing an atomic bomb for the second time on Monday.
Following the test fire, Seoul said it planned to join the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), which is aimed at halting shipments of weapons technology.
The decision enraged the North which said it would respond to “any tiny hostile acts…, including the stopping and searching of our peaceful vessels,” with a strong military strike.
Responding to the threats, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned North Korea against “provocative and belligerent” and highlighted the US firm commitment to the armistice and defending South Korea and Japan — both in easy range of North Korean missiles.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Pyongyang’s angry rhetoric will only aggravate its isolation, and that the peace has held despite the North’s repeated threats to end the truce.
Nearly 28,500 US troops remain stationed in South Korea in what Washington calls a deterrent force against Pyongyang.
Won said the surveillance step-up — the fourth since 1982 — to stage two would be focused along the borderline Demilitarized Zone, the Joint Security Area at Panmunjom village and the disputed Yellow Sea border of Northern Limit Line.
He added the tight defense measure was aimed at preventing the North’s military provocations, vowing “the military will deal sternly with provocative acts.”
May 28, 2009
Based upon this article in Yahoo! and an article earlier today from Joonang Ilbo, I estimate that as a minimum US Forces, Korea has gone to DEFCON 1 and I suspect that Pacific Command is at DEFCON 2 as a minimum. I base this on my year of service in Korea from October 1975 to October, 1976 which time included the “Tree War”. At that time I was an F-4 Weapons Systems Officer and squadron additional duty plans officer with the 80th Tactical Fighter Squadron (Juvats) at Kunsan Air Base.
Many of the articles I have read over the past few days indicate that the driving force behind this current “temper tantrum” is the United Nations Security Council rebuke for the Taepodong-2 test that failed to stage and crashed into the sea. Many other articles have opined that the real problem is succession. Their theory is that Mr. Kim, knowing his time on this Earth is severely limited after his last medical problem, is pressing for the guaranteed survival of the DPRK so he can name his successor.
At this point I’m not sure that the reason makes any difference. I believe we are at a point where if Kim backs down, he incurs a catastrophic loss of face. Add to that the cessation of the behind the scenes support from South Korea that occurred under the Roh government. Mr. Kim has also ejected the World Food Program from the DPRK. Since all information on North Korean agriculture appears to be classified at the SECRET level, we don’t have access to the LANDSAT photos that would allow us to know the condition of agriculture in the DPRK. We don’t even know if the KPA participated in the Spring Planting. Considering that they were supposedly on war alert for the Taepodong-2 launch, their participation is in serious question. If the KPA did NOT participate in the Spring Planting, that would be a strong indicator that the DPRK was not depending on this fall’s harvest for food.
There are in the Soviet system only two times when you go to war: Summer and Winter. Spring and Fall occupy the army fully with planting or harvest. Why? Because the army has all of the vehicles needed to accomplish either without emptying the cities and sending them to the collectives. Since there is so much we do not know about the state of North Korean agriculture, we must make educated estimates of same. We do know that over the last five or six years, a significant amount of newly terraced land on the western hills was planted and then washed into the Yellow Sea by typhoons. This land at almost at once became arable and useless. There are few other areas in the DPRK where land may be adapted to agriculture that is not already in use and over use.
There is good reason why the United States does not destroy the various facilities of the DPRK that are causing so much consternation. The first reason, and the most important, is that the DPRK holds Seoul hostage. The Korean People’s Army has about 11,000 artillery pieces and rocket launchers carefully concealed along and shortly behind the DMZ that target the area between the DMZ and the Han River. It is physically impossible to destroy these systems before they turn the heart of South Korea into rubble laden with chemical and biological agents. At worst for the South, these systems will have 24 hours to do their missions before we can destroy them. Whatever we may believe about a solution to the Kim problem, the Republic of Korea risks its existence whatever we do. I believe the decision about war or peace belongs to them.
Here I believe that the Joong Ang Article about command relationships is telling. It has been US policy since the creation of North and South Korea not to sell or allow the ROK forces to have offensive weapons. It has always been the United States that has supplied the heavy artillery and air power to defend the ROK. That is also why the US forces have been moved in stages south of the Han and out of initial range of the DPRK initial bombardment and assault. If the South Koreans, after many years of discussion and political discourse, decided to unify all military units in South Korea under a joint and South Korean lead command structure suddently decide to cancel that plan is a serious loss of face for the ROK. Not something they would do unless they were really scared.
This situation reminds me a lot of the “Tree War”. The DPRK created a major incident in the DMZ and then backed off when we applied significant force. At no point in this current run of events has the United States applied or even threatened significant force. When we went to chop down that offending tree, there were some 100 aircraft airborne including two cells of B-52s. I broke more peacetime flying rules in the following two weeks than ever before in my career. Live MigCAPS do get your attention.
That is exactly what bothers me about this current mess. There are sufficient imponderables here to keep all of us guessing. I do not see Mr. Kim backing down. I do not see USFK or the ROK backing down. I do see the imminent possibility of a black hole into which all disappear and only chaos reappears.
God help us all.
Richard E. Radcliffe
Captain, USAF (Retired)