South Korea on Monday froze funds for government exchanges with the North, a possible sign that Seoul is preparing for the results from an investigation into the March 26 Cheonan warship sinking
South Korea to blame North for torpedoing warship
May 18, 2010
South Korea will formally blame North Korea for launching a torpedo that sank a South Korean warship in March, killing 46 sailors, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing US and East Asian officials.
The officials told the newspaper that an investigation found that the torpedo was identical to a North Korean torpedo that had previously been obtained by South Korea.
The Chenoen sank in the Yellow Sea March 26 after being ripped in two by an explosion that killed 46 South Korean sailors.
Pieces of the warship were put together by investigators from Australia, Britain, Sweden and the United States at the port of Pyongtaek, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Seoul.
The Post said South Korea will formally blame North Korea on Wednesday and ask the UN Security Council to take up the issue, pressing for a tightening of sanctions on Pyongyang.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak also will ask the United States to delay for several years a plan to pass wartime operational control over all forces in South Korea from the United States to the South Korean military, the report said.
The Pentagon declined to comment on the report and the US State Department said they would wait for the end of the investigation before weighing in.
S.Korea wraps up warship probe amid US backing
May 18, 2010
With a strong show of support from its US ally, South Korea on Tuesday wrapped up a painstaking investigation into a naval disaster widely suspected to be the work of North Korea.
A media report said the South has found "decisive evidence" that a North Korean torpedo broke the 1,200-tonne warship the Cheonan in two near the disputed inter-Korean border on March 26, with the loss of 46 lives.
Top officials in the South have dropped widespread hints they believe the North was to blame, although Seoul has not yet formally accused its neighbour.
US President Barack Obama and South Korea's President Lee Myung-Bak called on the North to end its "belligerent behaviour towards its neighbours" but stopped short of blaming it for the sinking.
In a telephone conversation on Monday US time, the White House said, they "emphasised the importance of obtaining a full accounting of the event and committed to follow the facts of the investigation wherever they lead".
The two leaders also called on the North, which abandoned disarmament talks 13 months ago, to "live up to its commitment to eliminate its nuclear weapons programme".
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Seoul next week in an apparent further show of support.
Lee mounted a multinational probe into the sinking to try to ensure its findings cannot be disputed, while the opposition has accused him of seeking a political advantage before local elections on June 2.
The separate sections of the South Korean warship were salvaged last month from the Yellow Sea -- the scene of previous bloody naval clashes -- and the murky waters were scoured for any fragments of a weapon.
"The analysis of metal pieces and traces of explosive recovered from the Cheonan and the seabed led us to secure decisive evidence that there was a North Korean torpedo attack," Yonhap news agency quoted a military source as saying.
The explosive traces have a similar chemical make-up to substances found in a stray North Korean torpedo secured by the South seven years ago, the source was quoted as saying.
The defence ministry refused comment before the official announcement of the investigation's findings.
Yonhap and other media also said a fragment presumed to be part of the torpedo's propeller had been found. Dong-A Ilbo newspaper said investigators have concluded it was from a torpedo made in either China or Russia.
In a rare move, the North announced Tuesday it has called a meeting of its rubber-stamp parliament meeting for next month -- just two months after the previous session.
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