Researchers raise doubts over S-Korean ship sinking

Last Updated: Friday, July 9, 2010 - 23:52

Tokyo: A South Korean-led investigation into the sinking of a warship near its disputed border with North Korea was inconclusive, may have contained fabricated data and should be reopened, two American-based researchers from South Korea said on Thursday.
An international investigation concluded in May that
North Korea torpedoed the South Korean warship Cheonan in late
March, killing 46 sailors. North Korea denied it launched an
attack and warned that any punishment would trigger war.

But Jae-jung Suh, a political scientist at Johns Hopkins
University, and Seoung-hun Lee, a University of Virginia
physicist, said the report issued after the investigation had
numerous flaws and did not jibe with experiments they carried
out to replicate the conditions caused by the type of blast
that allegedly sank the ship.

South Korea`s military dismissed their claims as "nothing
new," saying it has presented sufficient evidence of an
attack. The results of the experiments conducted by the
professors were "likely to be based on incorrect experimental
factors," a Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman said on condition
of anonymity, citing official policy.
The international investigation concluded that the
Cheonan sank after a torpedo exploded in waters about 10-20
feet away from its hull, causing a "bubble effect" and
destroying the ship with its shockwaves. It said North Korea
was implicated by the discovery of a torpedo fragment with "No
1" written on it in Korean.

The two researchers, however, said the report failed to
sufficiently substantiate such claims.

"There is no evidence that the ship was destroyed by the
bubble effect, or of shockwaves," Suh told reporters at a news
conference in Tokyo. "We`re not sure where it happened, we`re
not sure when it happened. The only conclusion that can be
drawn is that there was no outside explosion."

Suh is the director of the Korean studies program at
Johns Hopkins and the author of several books on security
issues on the Korean peninsula. Lee is based at the University
of Virginia`s neutron and X-ray scattering laboratory, and is
an expert in the X-ray technologies used by the investigative

Lee and Suh said X-ray data submitted in the report
contained inconsistencies that "cast profound doubt" on the
integrity of the data, and said the "No 1" was written in ink
that should have burned off under the intense heat of the
blast, suggesting that it was fabricated.

Fifty-eight sailors were rescued from the frigid Yellow
Sea waters near the Koreas` maritime border but 46 perished in
South Korea`s worst military disaster since the end of the
three-year Korean War in 1953.


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First Published: Friday, July 9, 2010 - 23:52

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