North Korea Accused of Sinking South Korean Warship

Accusations of Warmongering

On March 26th, the Cheonan, a South Korean warship was sunk close to the disputed maritime border. The 1200-ton vessel was split into two and sunk 8 miles from North Korea and 150 from the South Korean mainland. 46 sailors were killed. The site of the Cheonan’s sinking was very close to an island named Baengnyeong. Baengnyeong is in South Korea’s hands, as it was given during armistice talks in 1953 in exchange for more land to be incorporated into North Korea elsewhere. The island’s location is convenient since it is used as a base for Americans to spy on North Korea.

The cause of the sinking as reported by the bourgeois media was a torpedo launched by a North Korean submarine. The first reports of the incident were much more neutral than they were later on. The first few reports mentioned the possibility of North Korean involvement but actually seemed to write about it almost in a doubtful fashion. However now, now they are certain it was the fault of North Korea. There was apparently an investigation, conducted by staff from the UK and America, which collected “overwhelming evidence” from the seabed, wreckage of the ship and from the 58 survivors that indicted a North Korean submarine of firing a torpedo which sank the Cheonan.

The Evidence

This is from The Economist: “On 15 May a ship dredging the site of the attack on a south Korean warship in March that killed 46 seamen made a spectacular find: propellers, motors and a steering section that international investigators say ‘perfectly match’ those of a CHT-02D torpedo that north Korea sells abroad. What’s more, the blue marking was similar to one on a previously captured north Korean torpedo. This was as close to a smoking gun as the south Koreans could have hoped to find.”

The torpedo being shown to the world as “overwhelming evidence” and the torpedo that North Korea allegedly had fired have quite a few differences in fact. Scott Creighton has written an article called “The Sinking of the Cheonan: We Are Being Lied To,” in which he places photographs of both side by side and points out some major differences. For more info go here [the APL does not necessarily endorse the views of this site] : The author says that “[t]here are four clear differences in the design of these weapons and one is, without a doubt, the key to proving these are not the same.” These include “major differences in the design of the hub of the propellers,” which are larger in the torpedo displayed than the North Korean torpedo.

“The actual shape of the propellers is very different. You can see a notch in the diagram” [of the Korean torpedo] “that doesn’t exist in the actual evidence propeller … The overall shape of the blades are vastly different as well, both the front and the rear propeller sets.” Finally, he concludes: “[a]ll of this might be explained away by suggesting that these propellers were switched out. Though it might be possible, remember that these are finely tuned and designed systems; one just can’t switch these hub designs ‘willy nilly’ like one would on their John-Boat. But, that aside, though it may be possible to have put different kinds of propellers on this fish, it is certainly NOT a ‘perfect match.’”

All this is already enough to doubt the report from the mainstream news and the report of the “investigators” from countries which have been war-mongering against the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea for years now, but it is the the next piece of evidence that truly dispels the possibility of the torpedo being North Korean.

From the article: “As you can plainly see, the stabilizers (or propulsion system?) in the diagram [of the Korean torpedo] are clearly shown IN FRONT of the separation plate as it is lined up in the display with the evidence below. However, the torpedo [the one shown in the popular media] … houses that same stabilizer (or propulsion system) BEHIND the separation plate (separating the body and the tail section of the torpedo).” The researcher then points out that someone named “Jan” noticed a difference in the axle shape, claiming it was “tapered on the evidence and straight in the diagram.” He concludes his article by noting that “there is no way to say these [two torpedoes] are a ‘perfect match,'” and that “[i]t is no wonder the ‘investigators’ chose not to sign their work.”

So, the torpedo being shown to the world as overwhelming evidence that North Korea attacked a South Korean warship is in fact, not possibly North Korean.

Where did the ‘investigators’ find this torpedo? A Japanese journalist named Tanaka Sanai has drawn light to the fact that the “investigation” was conducted in 3 points, or buoys. Each are quite some distance from each other, however the third one, closest to land was where most of the salvaging was done, at the site of the third torpedo no part of the warship had been found, which is of course questionable. Although according to Sanai a large sunken object was found, it was apparently found to be a submarine.

“The search and recovery of the Cheonan was given to a civilian company and the command of the operation was in the hands of a Korean barge. The search at the third buoy was conducted by a special RoK UDT-SEAL team and the latest RoK lightweight aircraft carrier, the Dokdo, served as the command centre. What can be assumed from this disparity is that the US and RoK military prioritised the search for the American submarine at the third buoy over the search and recovery of the Cheonan. ”

It is possible that this submarine could be the USS Columbia, which was involved in the Operation Foal Eagle, and was very late to return. In the time since Sinai’s article was written it is reported to have finally turned up. On a personal note by this author, a Korean friend of mine has told me that a Korean Journalist Jung Sung-Ki wrote in the Korea Times that the torpedo had been in water for several months, and given the above photo I do not find that so hard to believe.

Why is this Being Done?

There are reasons for America to fabricate a story indicating North Korea of aggression. American interests are served by having a military presence in South Korea, which it has kept since the Korean War. But to present reason for this, it would be necessary to occasionally scare the bourgeoisie of South Korea. A sinking of a South Korean warship would do just that. American imperialism is always keen to provoke more tension between the Koreas, although not to the extent of an actual war. The South Koreans promised no ”retaliation” and instead tighten sanctions on North Korea.

Answer from the DPRK

The Asia Times has an article by Kim Myong Chol entitled “Pyongyang sees US role in Cheonan sinking” which highlights much of the controversy surrounding these accusations. We quote from it here in length:

“Fact 1: North Korean submarines are not stealthy enough to penetrate heavily guarded south Korean waters at night and remain undetected by the highly touted anti-submarine warfare units of the American and south Korean forces. A north Korean submarine would be unable to outmaneuver an awesome array of high-tech Aegis warships, identify the corvette Cheonan and then slice it in two with a torpedo before escaping unscathed, leaving no trace of its identity.

“The sinking took place not in north Korean waters but well inside tightly guarded south Korean waters, where a slow-moving north Korean submarine would have great difficulty operating covertly and safely, unless it was equipped with AIP (air-independent propulsion) technology.

“Fact 2: The disaster took place precisely in the waters where what the Pentagon has called ‘one of the world’s largest simulated exercises’ was underway. This war exercise, known as ‘Key Resolve/Foal Eagle’ did not end on 18 March as was reported but actually ran from 18 March to 30 April.

“Fact 3: The Key Resolve/Foal Eagle exercise on the West Sea near the Northern Limit Line (NLL) was aimed at keeping a more watchful eye on north Korea as well as training for the destruction of weapons of mass destruction in the North. It involved scores of shiny, ultra-modern US and south Korean warships equipped with the latest technology.

“Among the fleet were four Aegis ships: the USS Shiloh (CG-67), a 9,600-ton Ticonderoga class cruiser, the USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54), a 6,800-ton Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, the USS Lassen, a 9,200-ton Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer and Sejong the Great, a 8,500-ton south Korean guided-missile destroyer.

“The four surface ships are the most important assets of the two navies, and have multi-mission platforms capable of conducting various tasks, such as anti-submarine warfare. There is every likelihood that they were supported by nuclear-powered US submarines and a south Korean ‘Type 214’ submarine that uses AIP technology.

“The sinking of the Cheonan has made headlines around the world. If indeed it was a US accident, it is an embarrassing indictment of the accuracy of the expensive weapons systems of the US, the world’s leading arms exporter. It has also cost the Americans credibility as the South’s superpower guardian. Ironically, this has made north Korean-made weapons more attractive on the international market.

“The south Koreans and the Americans charging the north Koreans with the sinking of the naval vessel in south Korean waters only highlights the poor performance of their expensive Aegis warships, as well as the futility of the US-south Korean joint war games and the US military presence in Korea.

“Fact 4: Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said on 30 March that he doubted there was north Korean involvement in the sinking: ‘Obviously the full investigation needs to go forward. But to my knowledge, there’s no reason to believe or to be concerned that that may have been the cause.’

“General Walter Sharp, US Forces Korea (USFK) commander, also saw no link between north Korea and the sinking. In a 6 April press conference, he said: ‘We, as Combined Forces Command and the RoK [Republic of Korea] Joint Chief of Staff, watch north Korea very closely every single day of the year and we continue to do that right now. And again, as this has been said, we see no unusual activity at this time.’”



With all this evidence, the blaming of the DPRK for the sinking of the South Korean ship seems planned. The original reaction of both South Korea and America, claiming that North Korea had no part in the sinking and that it would make no sense for the DPRK to sink the ship and deny it, seem correct. The evidence seems strong that the idea of the DPRK sinking the vessel is being played up by the media for warmongering interests. The only parties that could possibly benefit from this would be the American imperialists and the South Korean bourgeoisie.

Categories: Anti-War, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Imperialism, Imperialist War, International, Republic of Korea, Statements, U.S. News

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