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Troubles in perspective in Asian Fear East after the confirmation of a North Korean attack on a South Korean boat

A North Korean submarine's torpedo sank a South Korean navy ship on 26 March causing the loss of 46 sailors, an international report has found.

Troubles in perspective in Asian Fear East after the confirmation of a North Korean attack on a South Korean boat

A North Korean submarine's torpedo sank a South Korean navy ship on 26 March causing the loss of 46 sailors, an international report has found. Investigators said they had discovered part of the torpedo on the sea floor and it carried lettering that matched a North Korean design. Pyongyang rejected the claim as a "fabrication", South Korea's Yonhap agency reported. It said the North threatened war if sanctions were imposed by the South. But South Korean President Lee Myung-bak pledged to take "stern action" against the North.

The White House described the sinking of the ship as an "act of aggression" by North Korea that challenged peace. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the report was "deeply troubling". The Cheonan went down near the disputed inter-Korean maritime border, raising tension between the two nations, which technically remain at war. The shattered wreck of the 1,200-tonne gunboat was later winched to the surface, in two pieces, for examination. The investigation was led by experts from the US, Australia, Britain and Sweden. It said: "The evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that the torpedo was fired by a North Korean submarine. The Cheonan sinking has increased tensions between the two Koreas "There is no other plausible explanation."

The report said the torpedo parts found "perfectly match" a torpedo type that the North manufactures. Lettering found on one section matched that on a North Korean torpedo found by the South seven years ago. There had earlier been a number of explanations suggested for the sinking, including an accidental collision with an unexploded sea mine left over from the Korean War. Mr Lee's presidential office said he had told Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd: "We will be taking firm, responsive measures against the North, and through international cooperation, we have to make the North admit its wrongdoing and come back as a responsible member of the international community."

However, the BBC's John Sudworth in Seoul says agreeing an international response will be difficult as the diplomatic options will be limited. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said on Thursday the sinking of the vessel was "unfortunate" but he would not comment on the international report. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said US President Barack Obama had expressed his "deep sympathy" to Mr Lee and the Korean people.

"The United States strongly condemns the act of aggression that led to their deaths," Mr Gibbs said. Japan's Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said in a statement that North Korea's action was "unforgivable". The British embassy in Seoul quoted Foreign Secretary William Hague as saying: "[North Korea's] actions will deepen the international community's mistrust. The attack demonstrates a total indifference to human life and a blatant disregard of international obligations."


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