South Korea Tries to Refute Doubts on Cheonan Sinking

My last post detailed allegations that North Korea might be innocent in the sinking of the Cheonan and was being framed. The South Korean Defense Ministry responded with an article that claims to rebut “suspicions that have been spread online,” but I found nothing dealing with the five most serious allegations, repeated here for completeness:

The first distress call from the Cheonan was that it had run aground.

A chart initially used by the Navy to show victims’ families what happened showed where the Cheonan had run aground.

Damage to the hull indicates grounding, not a torpedo attack.

The propellers are bent in a way that proves they were in “full engine astern” while hitting the bottom, again consistent with grounding but inconsistent with a torpedo attack.

The alleged North Korean markings on the recovered torpedo parts were written on the rusted surface, not on the original smooth surface, and hence are faked.

South Korea’s rebuttal is on its Ministry of National Defense web site’s “recent news”. Since what is now recent soon will not be, here is the complete post:

Military refute doubts related to the Cheonan probe

Date 2010-06-04 14:30

The South Korean Defense Ministry and the civil-military joint investigation team officially gave rebuttal against suspicions that have been spread online after the announcement of the conclusion of the probe into the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan on May 20.

South Korean Army Brig. Gen. Yun Jong-seong, far left in battle dress uniform, head of the scientific investigation bureau of the joint probe, explains about the detail of components from the North Korean torpedo to policy advisory members from Defense, Foreign and Unification ministries in Seoul at the Defense Ministry in Yongsan, central Seoul. The components, what it called “critical evidence,” was collected from the seabed of the sinking site near Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea. By Jeong Eui-hun

The civil-military investigation team told South Korean policy advisory members from Defense, Foreign and Unification ministries on May 26 at the Defense Ministry in Seoul that suspicions about the Cheonan probe that have been going around since its announcement on May 20 are groundless.

In regards to a speculation that North Korea does not mark “1 beon” using an Arabic numeral and a Korean letter that means “number,” the investigation team said that North Korean defectors testified the North uses “beon” mostly in signifying an order in a sequence.

With a doubt how propellers can be remained even after the torpedo was exploded, the ministry said that South Korean torpedo propellers were also obtained in a test firing in 2004.

Another statement said that a midget submarine like a 135-ton salmon-class submarine cannot fire mid-size torpedo. The ministry explained that Iranian midget submarines are capable of carrying two such kind of torpedoes.

South Korean Army Lt. Gen. Park Jung-yi, the military chief of the civilian-military probe told members that the North fired a torpedo at the Navy corvette Cheonan on March 26, sinking the ship and killing 26 sailors.

Park made clear once again that Cheonan was neither stranded nor experienced interior explosion.

“There were no obstacles along the maneuver route of Cheonan at the time,” said Park. “The status of Sonar system installed in the bottom of the ship was normal.”

Related to a speculation that the corvette could have been collided with the another country’s Navy ship, the civil-military probe team said no traces of collision were found.

“Since the rate of corrosion of Cheonan is 3.22 percent and the ship remained normal, there is no possibility of fatigue failure,” Park said.

In the end, the Defense Minister Kim Tae-young said that the probe was implemented objectively and scientifically.

“We will continue to inform the South Korean people precisely that Cheonan was sunk by the North’s torpedo,” Kim said.

In the meantime, advisory members urged the military to use this opportunity to improve people’s sense of security as this year marks the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War(1950-53).

About Martin Hellman

I am a professor at Stanford University, best known for my invention of public key cryptography -- the technology that protects the secure part of the Internet, such as electronic banking. But, since 1982, my primary interest has been how fallible human beings can survive possessing nuclear weapons, where even one mistake could be catastrophic. My latest project is a book, co-written with my wife Dorothie, with the audacious subtitle "Creating True Love at Home & Peace on the Planet." It's on Amazon and a free PDF can be downloaded from its website:
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1 Response to South Korea Tries to Refute Doubts on Cheonan Sinking

  1. Federico Martinez says:


    I am currently finishing a manual about atmospheric waves (all of them, not only mountain waves) and soaring. I did not find other way to contact you than leaving a comment here…sorry. I want to grant your permission to use your Yosemite flight report published in the web, including two photos. It is a great illustration of the unexpected experience of flying with “convection wave” (or “cumulus wave”). That is what I think you found. The developing cumulus congestus in the scene, clearly point to this source of the lift. In mormal wave, only small or moderate cumulus develop. But never, as big as the ones in that summer day. They act as real obstacles, generating the uplift of the air, and producing finally the typical wave bouncing.


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