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Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Korea Times

   04-09-2010 16:38
Speculation Over NK Attack on Cheonan Mounting
By Kang Hyun-kyung
Staff Reporter

The government has asked lawmakers not to come to premature conclusions over the primary cause of the sinking of the naval vessel Cheonan until the government-led, multinational team releases investigation results with concrete evidence.

In spite of the renewed requests for patience, the speculation that North Korea might have played a role in the unexplained explosion continues unabated.

If supportive evidence emerges, experts predict that U.N.-led sanctions are likely to be the most realistic steps for the Korean government to take.

Rep. Park Sun-young of the minor Liberty Forward Party questioned Prime Minister Chung Un-chan Thursday on whether the government conducted a test to see if the debris from the naval ship explosion in the West Sea showed positive results for nuclear materials.

During the interpellation session at the National Assembly, Chung remained silent on the question.

The lawmaker coerced Chung to answer if the government has ever considered the possibility that the North Korean military hardliners used a so-called Seal Delivery Vehicle to attack the stern of the vessel.

The prime minister replied that he would not reveal what he had learned.

Defense Minister Kim Tae-young, however, said the chances were low.

Chung reiterated that the government would keep all possibilities open until the Korea-led multinational investigation team determines what went wrong.

Many lawmakers showed few signs of stopping their guesswork regarding the possible North Korean involvement in the maritime disaster.

President Lee Myung-bak said Wednesday that if South Korea goes it alone in the investigation of the maritime disaster and discovers the truth, those responsible may refuse to accept the outcome.

``The multinational team will reach a conclusion on the primary cause with such solid evidence that those who are found to be responsible won't be able to deny it,'' he said.

Despite Lee mentioning nothing about North Korea in the speech, his remark was construed as meaning that he would not rule out the involvement of the North.

North Korean refugees here said the suspicion is reasonable.

A group of North Korean Intellectuals said in a statement that North Korea considers provocative acts a necessary part of a winning strategy.

Daily NK, a media outlet run by North Korean defectors, said chances of the communist nation going for bellicose acts are higher under the current circumstances.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has struggled to control citizens after the currency reform failed. A recent survey conducted by a team of U.S. experts, including Marcus Noland, found that the worsened food situation after the failed reform has caused North Koreans to show skepticism twoard the government.

``Kim Jong-il may see a window of opportunity when security threats exist outside, as the presence of external dangers will help him unite the nation,'' the media said.

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