DTN News: Tensions Rise As North Korea Denies Sinking Warship Source: DTN News / TheStar.com
(NSI News Source Info) SEOUL, South Korea - May 21, 2010: South Korea accused the reclusive North on Thursday of torpedoing one of its warships, heightening tensions in the region and drawing a warning from Washington that Pyongyang must face consequences. Jittery South Korean financial markets and its currency fell as Seoul vowed to take “firm” measures against its neighbour. Nuclear North Korea, furiously denying the charge, warned it was ready for war if fresh sanctions were imposed. The United States, which has about 28,000 troops stationed in the South following the 1950-53 Korean War, said it stood ready to help South Korea defend itself against any further “acts of aggression.” Seoul has made clear it has no plans for a retaliatory strike but will press the international community to take action, probably more sanctions, against the North. Amid international condemnation of North Korea, the impoverished country’s only major ally, China, said it would make its own assessment of the South Korean investigation. Mindful of the tension on the Korean peninsula, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates and spokesmen for the White House and the U.S. State Department chose their words carefully in their responses to the report.
Video: North sank warship, South Korea charges“Clearly this was a serious provocation by North Korea and there will definitely be consequences because of what North Korea has done,” said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. Gates said the United States was consulting with South Korea, which would decide what action to take. A report by investigators, including experts from the United States, Australia, Britain and Sweden, concluded that a North Korean submarine had fired the torpedo that sank the Cheonan corvette in March, killing 46 sailors. The South Korean report said intelligence had shown that North Korean submarines were likely operating near the scene of the sinking. “The evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that the torpedo was fired by a North Korean submarine,” it said. North Korea said the South’s conservative government was using the incident for political gain. “Our army and people will promptly react to any ‘punishment’ and ‘retaliation’ and to any ‘sanctions’ infringing upon our state interests with various forms of tough measures including an all-out war,” the North’s official news agency quoted the powerful National Defence Commission as saying. North Korea has previously made bellicose threats to turn Seoul into a “sea of fire.” But military experts do not believe its army is any match for the modern military forces of the South and those of its ally, the United States. The rising tensions with North Korea and Iran have injected a new urgency into Canada’s G8 security agenda, which faced being overshadowed by economic recovery talks at next month’s round of summits.