Seoul: Ship 'torpedoed by DPRK'

08:15, May 21, 2010      

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The Republic of Korea government shows torpedo parts salvaged from the Yellow Sea during a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Seoul on Thursday. JUNG YEON-JE/ Agence France-Presse

The Republic of Korea (ROK) on Thursday accused the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) of torpedoing one of its warships, citing results of a multinational investigation.

The ROK said it would take "firm" measures against its northern neighbor, which furiously responded that it was ready for war if Seoul or its allies imposed sanctions.

Pyongyang has denied involvement in the sinking of the warship and called the investigation results a fabrication.

"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 DPRK's official news agency KCNA quoted the National Defense Commission as saying in a statement.

ROK President Lee Myung-bak will hold an emergency meeting of his National Security Council on Friday. His government has already made clear it has no plans for a retaliatory strike of its own but will be pressing the international community to take action, probably more sanctions, against the DPRK.

China appealed for calm on Thursday. Vice-Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai called the sinking "unfortunate" but refused to comment further. He reiterated China's long-standing view on the need to maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula.

"The parties involved should stay calm and exercise restraint ... to avoid escalation of the situation," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told a separate briefing later on Thursday.

After the sinking of the ship, China expressed condolences and sympathy to the ROK on many occasions for their casualties, which fully embodied China's understanding of the grief of the ROK government and people.

Ma said China has always viewed and dealt with international and regional affairs in a fair and objective manner.

China is always devoted to safeguarding regional peace and stability, and promoting the progress of the Six-Party Talks on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, he said, adding China was opposed to any activities which could run counter with the commitment.

The issue has pushed the already strained relations between the two Koreas to a nadir, said analysts.

Both the US and Britain gave their backing to the findings on the warship's sinking, with the White House calling it an act of aggression that was another sign of the DPRK's "unacceptable behavior".

US President Barack Obama vowed to help the ROK defend itself against any further "acts of aggression", the White House said on Wednesday.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement on Wednesday that "the facts laid out in the report are deeply troubling", adding that he would "closely follow developments".

Japan ruled out the resumption of the Six-Party Talks, and said Washington shared its view that such negotiations aimed at aiding Pyongyang in return for a promise to drop its nuclear arms "were unthinkable".

Source: China Daily
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