North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

NK Denied Role in Cheonan to China

Yonhap reports that the DPRK denied any role in the Cheonan.  Kim Jong Il did not seem to make the denial himself, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Xinsen told ROK legislators that “other channels conveyed Pyongyang’s stance.”

North Korea denied involvement in the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship when its leader Kim Jong Il visited China earlier this month, an opposition lawmaker said Monday, citing remarks by Beijing’s chief envoy to Seoul.
In a meeting with Democratic Party leaders, new Chinese Amb. Zhang Xinsen said the North denied any involvement in the March 26 sinking, Rep. Choi Moon-soon said.
Forty-six sailors died when the Cheonan, a 1,200-ton patrol ship, went down near the sea border with North Korea. Seoul suspects a possible torpedo attack by North Korea and is expected to announce investigation results within this week.
Asked whether the North Korean leader himself denied involvement during his May 3-7 China visit, Zhang said other channels had conveyed Pyongyang’s stance, according to the lawmaker.

The revelation comes as the ROK prepares to announce the results of the official investigation on Thursday (20 May).  Prior to announcing the investigation’s findings, ROK officials will reportedly brief China, Japan and Russia, then move the matter to the UN Security Council.

South Korea is considering launching steps to refer the deadly sinking of one of its warships to the United Nations as soon as investigation results are announced, a government source said Monday.

The government will likely brief China, Russia and Japan with the results a day before the announcement, which is expected within this week, according to the source.

Soon after the announcement, South Korea will send a letter to the chairman of the U.N. Security Council, a move seen as the first step to appeal to the U.N. to punish those responsible for the deadly disaster.

Sunny Lee interviews several Chinese experts in Korea Times on their assessment of KJI’s trip:

But “the visit itself was not very substantive,” said Zhu Feng, a security expert at Peking University.

“Beijing asked Pyongyang to show sincerity of its nuclear commitment by returning to the six-party talks. But Kim just said only under certain conditions would there be a return to the talks. Overall, there was a lack of recognition of the six-party talks,” he said.

Liu Ming, the director of International Relations Theory Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, agreed. “There was no breakthrough, even though they had some discussions on the nuclear issue,” he said.

According to Liu, the difference between China and North Korea remains “large” in key issues, including the nuclear factor.

During his meeting with the Chinese President, Kim said his country was still committed to nuclear disarmament and expressed a willingness to “provide favorable conditions” for restarting the six-party talks, without specifying concrete measures.

“That’s still a positive change,” said Su Hao, an expert on Chinese foreign policy at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing.

Analysts in South Korea, the United States, Japan, Russia, as well as China, are increasingly skeptical about the North’s purported sincerity in its commitment to denuclearization. Some are even worried about nuclear proliferation.

An affiliate of 38 North