July 10, 2010
The Cheonan incident was discussed at the UN and resulted in a UN Security Council presidential statement that included both South and North Korea's positions on the incident and "calls for full adherence to the Korean Armistice Agreement and encourages the settlement of outstanding issues on the Korean peninsula by peaceful means to resume direct dialogue and negotiation through appropriate channels as early as possible, with a view to avoiding conflicts and averting escalation."
Prior to this, on June 10, the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), a major South Korean NGO, sent an open letter to the UN Security Council in which it raised questions concerning the contents of the official investigation report.
This action, considered normal by UN-registered NGOs, raised ire in the South Korean foreign ministry and amongst ultra-conservatives in South Korea, who demonstrated in front of the PSPD office for several days -- even making threats to PSPD staff.
Scientists have been raising questions as well. Seung-Hun Lee, a Korean-born physicist at the University of Virginia and Jae-Jung Suh, a political scientist at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC (who also has a degree in physics) are questioning scientific validity of evidences set forth by the official investigative team and calls for further independent investigation. [The photo above shows a press conference by Lee and Suh on July 9 at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Tokyo.]
Investigation Result on the Sinking of ROKS "Cheonan". By The Joint Civilian-Military Investigation Group. May 20, 2010.
by Ronda Hauben
The South Korean government has denounced an NGO for writing to the Security Council. The South Korean prosecutors office has initiated a criminal investigation against one of the most respected civil society organizations in South Korea, Peoples Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD). But is it a criminal act for an NGO to send a letter or report to the Security Council on a problem before the Council?
PSPD is a watchdog NGO that was founded in 1994. Since then it has monitored the actions of the South Korean government, supporting the efforts of South Korean citizens to participate in political affairs.
In a letter asking for support, PSPD writes (1):
PSPD believes that diplomacy and security policy should be under the citizenrys watch and democratic control. National Security and diplomatic policy should not be monopolized by military and diplomatic authorities.
On June 11, the Center for Peace and Disarmament of PSPD sent a letter to UN Security Council President Claude Heller, the Mexican Ambassador to the UN. Mexico holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council for the month of June. With its letter, PSPD included its report, The PSPDs Stance on the Naval Vessel Cheonan Sinking.(2)
The letter and report were also sent to the other fourteen member states of the United Nations Security Council, to the United Nations Secretary General and to the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea (South Korea).
The PSPD report raised a number of questions and problems with the findings presented by the South Korean government of its investigation of the Cheonan sinking.
The South Korean government, unable to win support domestically for its allegations that North Korea was responsible for the sinking of the Cheonan, turned to the UN Security Council for action against North Korea.(3) On June 4 the South Korean Ambassador at the UN submitted a letter to the UN Security Council requesting it to take up the matter of the sinking of the Cheonan. (4)
On June 8, North Korea submitted a letter to the Security Council denying any involvement in the sinking of the Cheonan.(5)
The Security Council scheduled an informal meeting for South Korea to present its case against North Korea on Monday, June 14. Initially there was no plan for the Security Council to meet with the North Korean delegation on the Cheonan issue. On Sunday evening, however, news reports from South Korea announced that on June 14, the Security Council would also hold an informal meeting with North Korea.
According to some of the South Korean news media who cover the UN, the big story in South Korea on Monday, June 14, was not that South Korea was making its presentation to the Security Council. Instead the media described denunciations by South Korean government officials against PSPD for sending its report to the UN. The reporters claimed the South Korean government believed that the PSPD report influenced the North Korean UN delegation to request a presentation at the UN Security Council on the subject of the Cheonan. There was no proof presented for such allegations. This did not, however, stop South Korean government officials from making accusations against PSPD, nor the South Korean conservative media from supporting the denunciations with articles accusing the NGO of anti patriotic behavior.(6)
South Korean Government Says Against the National Interest
In Seoul, on June 14, the spokesman for the Blue House, for the President of South Korea, Lee Myung bak, publicly denounced PSPD.
Also on June 14, during the Question and Answer time at the National Assembly, the South Korean Prime Minister, Un-Chan Chung, denouncing PSPD for sending its letter and report to the UN Security Council, said, Such actions are against national interest. It (PSPDs action) dishonored and shamed our country.
Back at UN headquarters in New York on Monday, June 14, two separate informal meetings of the Security Council were held in the North Lawn Building. A large number of reporters waited in the café outside the area where the Security Council was meeting because the meetings were closed to the press.
After the two informal Security Council meetings, the Mexican Ambassador spoke briefly to the press. He said, the Security Council issued a call to the parties to refrain from any act that could escalate tensions in the region, and makes an appeal to preserve peace and stability in the region. He also indicated that the Security Council would continue its consultations after the meetings it had with the delegations of both nations.
Heller said that it was very important to have received the very detailed presentation by South Korea and also to know and learn from the arguments of North Korea. He commented that it was very important that North Korea has approached the Security Council. In response to a question about his view on the issues presented, he responded, I am not a judge. I think we will go on with the consultations to deal in a proper manner on the issue. (7)
The North Korean UN delegation scheduled a press conference for the following day, Tuesday, June 15. During the press conference, the North Korean Ambassador presented North Koreas refutation of the allegations made by South Korea. Also he explained North Koreas request to be able to send an investigation team to go to the site where the sinking of the Cheonan occurred. South Korea had denied the request. During the press conference, a reporter with a South Korean newspaper asked the North Korean Ambassador if he had received a copy of the PSPD document from PSPD. The Ambassador responded that not to his knowledge.
In a press release, the Asian Human Rights Commission writes that following the denunciation of PSPD by South Korean government officials, the countrys Prosecutors office reportedly leaked to newspapers that there was a possibility that the staff of the PSPD might be prosecuted under the National Security Act, if a case were to be filed. (9)
In response, it explains, conservative groups filed a complaint with the Prosecutors Office. On June 15, the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Chun Yeong-U said that, A legal examination is currently going on.
Following the accusatory remarks by South Korean government officials against PSPD, people belonging to conservative groups attempted to raid the offices of PSPD. There are reports that members of PSPD were assaulted verbally and physically, and threatening phone calls were made to the PSPD offices.
In one incident, a van containing flammable material was driven up to the building where PSPD offices are located. The police did not arrest the perpetrators of these deeds. The Prosecutor, instead, opened an investigation of PSPD.
On June 17, according to the Asian Human Rights Commission, the case against PSPD was allocated to the Public Security Bureau 1,which announced its intention to summon PSPD officials.
The Asian Human Rights Commission also reported that the Prosecutors office approached one of the experts who worked on the government-led report in order for this expert to submit a complaint concerning alleged criminal defamation by the NGO.
South Korean government officials, supported by some of the South Korean media, allege that it is an unusual practice for an NGO to send a letter or report to the UN Security Council. Recently, a reporter asked a government official, Are there any cases that a NGO sends a contrast position paper against a government on the security issue. Chun, Yung-woo, the 2nd Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade responded, I have never heard that there are such NGOs, and document sent by a NGO cannot be a UNSC document.
NGO Writing to Security Council Established Practice at the UN
Such an interchange demonstrates a serious lack of knowledge of UN and particularly Security Council procedures. There is a long established practice at the UN of NGOs or private individuals sending letters and documents to the Security Council on questions before the Security Council. Most if not all of the matters before the Security Council have to do with security issues.
Records at the UN show that the practice of sending such correspondence to the Security Council dates back to 1946. This is the date when the symbol S/NC/ was introduced as the symbol for Communications received from private individuals and non-governmental bodies relating to matters of which the Security Council is seized. (10) The Security Council has the practice of periodically publishing a list of the documents it receives, the name and organization of the sender, and the date they are received. The Provisional Rules of Procedure of the Security Council states that the list is to be circulated to all representatives on the Security Council. A copy of any communication on the list is to be given to any nation on the Security Council that requests it.
There are over 450 such lists indicated in the UN records. As each list can contain several or a large number of documents the Security Council has received, the number of such documents is likely to be in the thousands.
Under Rule 39 of the Council procedures, the Security Council may invite any person it deems competent for the purpose to supply it with information on a given subject. Thus the two procedures in the Security Councils provisional rules give it the basis to find assistance on issues it is considering from others outside the Council and to consider the contribution as part of its deliberation.
Many Calling for End to Witch Hunt Against PSPD
Initiating a criminal investigation against a South Korean NGO or citizen for what is a long existing practice and tradition with respect to the UN Security Council, is a South Korean government action that is being compared to the kind of witch-hunts that occurred during the period of the 1950s in the US which has come to be known as McCarthyism.
In contrast to the attack on PSPD by the South Korean government and the conservative media, many NGOs and citizens in South Korea have expressed their support for PSPD.
A group of 200 professors and other intellectuals in South Korea have issued a statement calling for the end of the witch hunt against PSPD. The statement explains that PSPD had performed its innate duty and right as a civic group. The group calls for conservative groups to end their irrational backward attacks on PSPD.(11)
Also, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, an organization of 46 groups in Asia which includes PSPD, sent a petition to Frank La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right of Opinion and Expression. (12) It asked the UN to advise the South Korean government to end the prosecutorial investigation of PSPD.
La Rue had visited South Korea on May 6-17, 2010. He issued a press statement on May 17 documenting other examples of the abuse by the South Korean government of the human rights of its citizens. He referred to the obligation of South Korea to adhere to the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights protecting the right to freedom of expression.(13)
While La Rues comments were made prior to the current South Korean government attack on PSPD, Amnesty International has issued a statement regarding the current situation. (14) It writes:
Amnesty International is deeply concerned about the Seoul Central Prosecutors Offices decision on Wednesday to investigate the Peoples Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) for sending a letter to the UN Security Council questioning the results of the international investigation into the sinking of the South Korean navy vessel the Cheonan. The civic group is accused of benefiting North Korea, in violation of the National Security Law, interfering with states acts and defamation.
The statement concludes, Amnesty International is also concerned that the National Security Law continues to be used to arbitrarily target individuals or groups peacefully exercising their basic rights to freedom of expression and association. Simply put, this law is used as a tool to silence dissent.
Secretary General Says he does not have a comment at this time
On Friday, June 18, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was asked for his view of the current action by the prosecutor in South Korea against an NGO for sending a letter to the Security Council. He responded, I will have to check. Im not aware of that I dont have a comment at this time, but I may have to check and will get back to you later.(15)He did not get back to the journalist as of the publication date of this article.
Open Letter Sent to Ban Ki-moon about Reprisals for Participation in UN Work
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has appealed to Ban Ki-moon. On June 24, it sent an Open Letter to Sec-Gen Ban Ki-moon about the situation. In the letter it asks him (16):
. . ..to take all necessary steps to ensure that the reprisals, directly or indirectly attributable to the Republic of Korea, are immediately halted against civil society groups that have communicated with the UN. The AHRC appreciates the work of the Secretary-General concerning reprisals and urges his offices to include this case as part of efforts to protect civil society members from facing attacks based on their participation in the UNs work.
The AHRC has also asked the High Commissioner for Human Rights to intervene to ensure that these reprisals are halted and that the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression be implemented in full and without delay. It also calls upon South Korea as a member of the Human Rights Council to act to uphold the highest standards.
Support for PSPD to Continue Its Activities as Political Watchdog
PSPD reports that the organization has increased its membership by 15% with 1600 new members joining since the attack by the South Korean government. Also, numerous individuals and organizations in Korea and outside have sent letters and made statements in support of PSPD.
As a member of the international society, PSPD explains, PSPD will continuously make every effort to advance the universal goals of democracy and peace through its activities as a political watchdog.(17)
Anm.: Alle Verweise auf Quellen sind nur in der pdf-Version erhalten. Wir bitten um Entschuldigung.
Published online 8 July 2010 | Nature | doi:10.1038/news.2010.343
Controversy over South Korea's sunken ship
Physicists' research casts doubt on idea that North Korean torpedo downed vessel.
New research suggests North Korea may not have been responsible for the sinking of the Cheonan.
In May, two months after the sinking of a South Korean warship, the country released a report blaming its northern neighbour. That report soon came under fire from South Korean opposition politicians and an influential South Korean civil liberties group. Now some scientists are lending their weight to the critique.
On 26 March, the Cheonan, a patrol ship that monitored North Korean submarine activity, split in two and sank near the contested maritime boundary between the two countries. In a 20 May report the Joint Investigation Group (JIG), composed of civilian and military experts from Korea and some advisers from the United Kingdom, the United States, Sweden and Australia, concluded that North Korea had torpedoed the ship and was responsible for the deaths of 46 crew members.
The group's evidence included fragments of a torpedo found near the ship which had the same dimensions as torpedoes pictured in North Korean munitions pamphlets and had ink markings identifying it as North Korean.
The controversy started before the report was even released. An expert placed on the JIG by the opposition party Shin Sang-chul, a former officer in the South Korean navy who had also worked at a shipbuilding company suggested that an accidental collision with a US warship, and not North Korea, was to blame. The United States and South Korea had been carrying out military exercises in the area at the time.
On 10 June, the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, a Seoul-based organisation that acts as a watchdog on government authority, sent an open letter to the United Nations Security Council in which it raised eight questions concerning the contents of the JIG's report and six problems concerning the transparency of the investigation. The letter alleged that the report's claim that a torpedo-induced water column sank the Cheonan contradicted earlier testimony from survivors that they did not see a water column or only felt water droplets on the face. The letter also questioned why the supposed torpedo launch was not detected, despite active sonar equipment aboard the Cheonan.
The Joint Investigation Group presented fragments of a torpedo found near the damaged ship.
Seung-Hun Lee, a Korean-born physicist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, says the most problematic part of the JIG's report is the linking of the adsorbed material on the propeller of the torpedo with that found on the ship. In the JIG's report, electron dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) analysis shows the samples to be nearly identical to each other and with those produced in a simulated test explosion: each has similar-sized peaks showing the presence of aluminium, oxygen, carbon and other elements. X-ray diffraction analysis likewise shows the torpedo sample to have the same signature as the ship sample. But on one point, the EDS data and X-ray data are different the X-ray data lack any sign of aluminium or aluminium oxide.
To explain the discrepancy, the JIG's report suggests that the aluminium had supercooled into amorphous aluminium oxide, rather than a crystalline form. Amorphous aluminium oxides do not produce an X-ray diffraction pattern.
But the supercooling of metals into amorphous forms is a delicate process, says Lee. "It's impossible that 100% of it would be amorphous," he says. Lee's own experiments show that aluminium in such conditions would primarily be crystalline.
Lee posted his report online on 3 June1. Experiments carried out independently by Panseok Yang, a technician specializing in mass spectrometry at the geological sciences department of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, found that the ratio of oxygen to aluminium in the rapidly cooling aluminium would be much lower than suggested by the JIG. Yang's data, which were added to Lee's online report on 28 June, suggest that the samples analyzed by the JIG could have been from old, rusted aluminum.
Lee also says that the JIG did not explain why the blue ink on the torpedo that apparently identified it as North Korean did not melt, as the temperatures following its detonation were high enough to melt the paint. "They did a lousy job in every sense," says Lee.
Lee admits that they cannot say with any certainty how the ship sank if a North Korean torpedo was not responsible, although they offer alternatives. The Cheonan might have been hit by a mine (probably a South Korean one, according to Jae-Jung Suh, a political scientist at Johns Hopkins University working in Washington DC), or it might have been rammed by another ship, as suggested by Shin.
The South Korean government has adamantly denied any fabrication or any major problems with its interpretation of the data.
Many others doubt that there is any alternative interpretation. James Schoff, an expert in Asian regional security mechanisms who heads Asia-Pacific studies at the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis in Washington DC, says, "Aside from the science, it is consistent with North Korea's behaviour in the past. It fits the goal of the conservatives [within the government], which is to try to raise awareness of a security threat."
This doesn't, however, rule out the possibility that North Korea did sink the ship but that South Korea nonetheless fabricated data to make a stronger case to the United Nations, admits Schoff. It's possible, for example, that they added the ink, he says. "It wouldn't surprise me if they added it to make it more convincing. But I have no doubts personally that the conclusion [of the JIG report] is correct."
Lee and Suh have vowed to keep raising awareness of the inconsistencies. On 9 July, they are set to speak at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Tokyo.
"South Korea should reopen an investigation, and the parliament should open an investigation into the JIG on suspicion of fabricated data," Suh told Nature. "They failed in their task of proving that this was done by North Korea, and so it is quite likely that they fabricated data."
THU. 20 MAY, 2010
Investigation Result on the Sinking of ROKS "Cheonan"
The Joint Civilian-Military Investigation Group
The Joint Civilian-Military Investigation Group (JIG) conducted its investigation with 25 experts from 10 top Korean expert agencies, 22 military experts, 3 experts recommended by the National Assembly, and 24 foreign experts constituting 4 support teams from the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Sweden. The JIG is composed of four teams--Scientific Investigation Team, Explosive Analysis Team, Ship Structure Management Team, and Intelligence Analysis Team.
In our statement today, we will provide the results attained by Korean and foreign experts through an investigation and validation process undertaken with a scientific and objective approach.
The results obtained through an investigation and analysis of the deformation of the hull recovered from the seabed and evidence collected from the site of the incident are as follows:
The JIG assesses that a strong underwater explosion generated by the detonation of a homing torpedo below and to the left of the gas turbine room caused Republic of Korea Ship (ROKS) "Cheonan" to split apart and sink.
The basis of our assessment that the sinking was caused by a torpedo attack is as follows:
Precise measurement and analysis of the damaged part of the hull indicates that a shockwave and bubble effect caused significant upward bending of the CVK (Center Vertical Keel), compared to its original state, and shell plate was steeply bent, with some parts of the ship fragmented.
On the main deck, fracture occurred around the large openings used for maintenance of equipment in the gas turbine room and significant upward deformation is present on the port side. Also, the bulkhead of the gas turbine room was significantly damaged and deformed.
The bottoms of the stern and bow sections at the failure point were bent upward. This also proves that an underwater explosion took place.
Through a thorough investigation of the inside and outside of the ship, we have found evidence of extreme pressure on the fin stabilizer, a mechanism to reduce significant rolling of the ship; water pressure and bubble effects on the bottom of the hull; and wires cut with no traces of heat. All these point to a strong shockwave and bubble effect causing the splitting and the sinking of the ship.
We have analyzed statements by survivors from the incident and a sentry on Baekryong-do.
The survivors made a statement that they heard a near-simultaneous explosion once or twice, and that water splashed on the face of a port-side lookout who fell from the impact; furthermore,
a sentry on the shore of Baekryong-do stated that he witnessed an approximately 100-meter-high "pillar of white flash" for 2~3 seconds. The aforementioned phenomenon is consistent with damage resulting from a shockwave and bubble effect.
Regarding the medical examination on the deceased service members, no trace of fragmentation or burn injury were found, but fractures and lacerations were observed. All of these are consistent with damage resulting from a shockwave and bubble effect.
The seismic and infrasound wave analysis result conducted by the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM) is as follows:
Seismic wave intensity of 1.5 degrees was detected by 4 stations.
2 infrasound waves with a 1.1-second interval were detected by 11 stations.
The seismic and infrasound waves originated from an identical site of explosion.
This phenomenon corresponds to a shock wave and bubble effect generated by an underwater explosion.
Numerous simulations of an underwater explosion show that a detonation with a net explosive weight of 200~300kg occurred at a depth of about 6~9m, approximately 3m left of the center of the gas turbine room.
Based on the analysis of tidal currents off Baekryong-do, the JIG determined that the currents would not prohibit a torpedo attack.
As for conclusive evidence that can corroborate the use of a torpedo, we have collected propulsion parts, including propulsion motor with propellers and a steering section from the site of the sinking.
The evidence matched in size and shape with the specifications on the drawing presented in introductory materials provided to foreign countries by North Korea for export purposes. The marking in Hangul, which reads "1 [Hangul not reproducible] (or No. 1 in English)", found inside the end of the propulsion section, is consistent with the marking of a previously obtained North Korean torpedo. The above evidence allowed the JIG to confirm that the recovered parts were made in North Korea.
Also, the aforementioned result confirmed that other possible causes for sinking raised, including grounding, fatigue failure, mines, collision and internal explosion, played no part in the incident.
The following sums up the opinions of Korean and foreign experts on the conclusive evidence collected from the incident site; hull deformation; statements of relevant personnel; medical examination of the deceased service members; analysis on seismic and infrasound waves; simulation of underwater explosion; and analysis on currents off Baekryong-do and collected torpedo parts.
ROKS "Cheonan" was split apart and sunk due to a shockwave and bubble effect produced by an underwater torpedo explosion.
The explosion occurred approximately 3m left of the center of the gas turbine room, at a depth of about 6~9m.
The weapon system used is confirmed to be a high explosive torpedo with a net explosive weight of about 250kg, manufactured by North Korea.
In addition, the findings of the Multinational Combined Intelligence Task Force, comprised of 5 states including the US, Australia, Canada and the UK and operating since May 4th, are as follows:
The North Korean military is in possession of a fleet of about 70 submarines, comprised of approximately 20 Romeo class submarines (1,800 tons), 40 Sango class submarines (300 tons) and 10 midget submarines including the Yeono class (130 tons).
It also possesses torpedoes of various capabilities including straight running, acoustic and wake homing torpedoes with a net explosive weight of about 200 to 300kg, which can deliver the same level of damage that was delivered to the ROKS "Cheonan."
Given the aforementioned findings combined with the operational environment in the vicinity of the site of the incident, we assess that a small submarine is an underwater weapon system that operates in these operational environment conditions. We confirmed that a few small submarines and a mother ship supporting them left a North Korean naval base in the West Sea 2-3 days prior to the attack and returned to port 2-3 days after the attack.
Furthermore, we confirmed that all submarines from neighboring countries were either in or near their respective home bases at the time of the incident.
The torpedo parts recovered at the site of the explosion by a dredging ship on May 15th, which include the 5x5 bladed contra-rotating propellers, propulsion motor and a steering section, perfectly match the schematics of the CHT-02D torpedo included in introductory brochures provided to foreign countries by North Korea for export purposes. The markings in Hangul, which reads "1 [Hangul not reproducible] (or No. 1 in English)", found inside the end of the propulsion section, is consistent with the marking of a previously obtained North Korean torpedo. Russian and Chinese torpedoes are marked in their respective languages.
The CHT-02D torpedo manufactured by North Korea utilizes acoustic/wake homing and passive acoustic tracking methods. It is a heavyweight torpedo with a diameter of 21 inches, a weight of 1.7 tons and a net explosive weight of up to 250kg.
Based on all such relevant facts and classified analysis, we have reached the clear conclusion that ROKS "Cheonan" was sunk as the result of an external underwater explosion caused by a torpedo made in North Korea. The evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that the torpedo was fired by a North Korean submarine. There is no other plausible explanation.