Critics cast doubts on North Korea’s role in ‘Cheonan’ sinking

July 24th, 2010 - 6:18 pm ICT by ANI  

Los Angeles, July 24 (ANI): Critics have disputed the findings announced by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, which blamed Pyongyang for the sinking of South Korean warship ‘Cheonan’, and accused him of utilising the death of 46 sailors to stir up anti-communist sentiment and sway voters in the country.

According to Los Angeles Times, critics, most of them from the opposition, questioned as to why Lee made the announcement nearly two months after the ship’s sinking, while on the very day campaigning opened for fiercely contested local elections.

They also raised doubts over the evidence of a torpedo attack questioning whether it was misinterpreted, or even fabricated.

Shin Sang-chul, a former shipbuilding executive-turned-investigative journalist, who was appointed to the joint investigative panel by the opposition Democratic Party, inspected the damaged ship with other experts on April 30, 2010.

However, he was removed from the panel shortly afterward because he had voiced a contrary opinion that the Cheonan hit ground in the shallow water off the Korean peninsula and then damaged its hull trying to get off a reef, the paper said.

“It was the equivalent of a simple traffic accident at sea, I couldn’t find the slightest sign of an explosion, the sailors drowned to death. Their bodies were clean. We didn’t even find dead fish in the sea,” Shin said.

According to the paper, two South Korean-born U.S. academics have joined the chorus of skepticism, holding a news conference this month in Tokyo to voice their suspicions about the “smoking gun:” a piece of torpedo propeller with a handwritten mark in blue ink reading “No. 1″ in Korean.

“You could put that mark on an iPhone and claim it was manufactured in North Korea,” one of the academics, Seunghun Lee, a professor of physics at the University of Virginia said.

“The government is lying when they said this was found underwater. I think this is something that was pulled out of a warehouse of old materials to show to the press,” he added.

A military oversight body, the Board of Inspection and Audit, has also accused senior naval officers of lying and concealing information.

“Military officers deliberately left out or distorted key information in their report to senior officials and the public because they wanted to avoid being held to account for being unprepared,” an official of the inspection board said.

The Cheonan, a 1,200-ton corvette, sank on March 26, 2010 about 12 miles off North Korea. (ANI)

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