North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

ROK Military Will Identify NK as Cheonan Assailant

Kim So-hyun reports in Korea Herald that the South Korean military will issue a statement this Thursday that identifies the DPRK as responsible for the March sinking of the Cheonan.

The South Korean military is expected to issue a statement later this week accusing North Korea of a torpedo attack on the Cheonan, which sank near the inter-Korean sea border in March.

“The joint investigation team has found evidence to conclude that the Cheonan was torpedoed and that it was a North Korean torpedo,” a senior government official said.

“The military is considering issuing a statement against North Korea and on its stance after the investigation results are unveiled around Thursday.”

The statement is likely to be signed by Defense Minister Kim Tae-young rather than Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Lee Sang-eui as Kim has called the South Korean naval disaster a “grave issue of national security.”

Through the statement, the military plans to denounce the North for the “military provocation,” warn that Pyongyang should be responsible for everything that takes place from now on and declare its intent to prepare against a possible confrontation.

“I cannot say whether the statement would use direct expressions such as the North’s ‘military provocation’ or ‘military attack’ as the investigation results are yet to be announced,” the official said.

“But such statement is usually targeted at someone, so its premises would include those (accusations).”

The U.S. also reportedly sees the Cheonan’s sinking as an “armed attack” against its ally rather than an accident.

“The military will clarify its position on what external or internal measures to take once the investigation results are announced,” said another source in Seoul.

“The military is likely to announce stern measures to enhance military preparedness after President Lee Myung-bak makes a public statement (on the Cheonan disaster).”

Lee is expected to publicly speak of his position later this month after the investigation results are disclosed.

Meanwhile Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada stated Saturday (15 May) that the 6 Party Talks will not reconvene if the DPRK is officially linked to the Cheonan’s fate:

Six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear programs would not be resumed if Pyogyang’s involvement in the sinking of a South Korean warship is confirmed, Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said Saturday.

Okada expressed the view at the day’s meeting in this southeastern South Korea city among Okada and his Chinese and South Korean counterparts. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in the meeting that they have to follow up on the incident calmly and spoke about procedures for a resumption of the six-party talks, according to Okada.

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