S Korea will make N Korea `pay for sinking`

North Korea has denied involvement and accused Seoul of faking the evidence.

Updated: May 21, 2010, 16:08 PM IST

Seoul: Seoul`s defence chief on Friday vowed to make North Korea pay for sinking a South Korean warship as international outrage grew over the attack which claimed 46 lives.

"North Korea surpassed the limits and for such an act we will make it pay," Defence Minister Kim Tae-Young told foreign correspondents.

President Lee Myung-Bak separately described the March 26 torpedo attack on a 1,200-corvette as a breach of the armistice which ended the 1950-53 war, but said Seoul`s response would be prudent.

Condemnation of Pyongyang has intensified since a multinational investigation team announced yesterday that a submarine from the North fired a heavy torpedo which split the Cheonan in two.

"This was a serious provocation. There will definitely be consequences," US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said yesterday.

The communist North, for the second time in two days, denied involvement and accused Seoul of faking the evidence. It has threatened "all-out war" in response to any attempt to punish it.

Investigators said parts of a torpedo salvaged from the seabed match those used by the North.

The Defence Ministry today put the salvaged propellers and other items on display inside a glass case during a briefing to back up its claims.

Experts pointed out similarities between the salvaged weaponry and a blueprint the North has used when exporting such torpedoes. They said explosive residue found on the weaponry matched that on the warship`s hull.

A top military intelligence official said the North apparently launched the attack in revenge for a firefight near the disputed border last November which left a North Korean patrol boat in flames.

The aim was "to restore honour to the military and boost its morale", said the director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, Lt Gen Hwang Won-Dong.

Other motives, he said, were to distract people from economic woes, exacerbated by a bungled currency change; to strengthen internal solidarity; and to gain leverage in six-party nuclear disarmament talks and press the Seoul government to soften its cross-border policies.

Minister Kim said Seoul would seek additional sanctions on the North from the United Nations Security Council, among other measures.

China, the North`s ally and a veto-wielding council member, has so far merely called for restraint by all parties.