The US has said it will support the UN if North Korea’s involvement in the sinking of the Cheonan is proven. Officials in Seoul said last week that an external explosion was the cause of the sinking and cited a possible torpedo attack. The investigation is still under way. The State Department has stated “From our standpoint, the investigation is ongoing and we continue to cooperate with South Korea in that investigation.”
The United States Monday supported the idea of bringing to the U.N. Security Council the sinking of a South Korean warship if North Korea’s involvement is confirmed.
“That is a right that every country has,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said, responding to the proposal by South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan that the issue be put before the Security Council if the investigation determines North Korea’s involvement.
The U.S. has joined a team of several countries to salvage the 1,200-ton Cheonan and determine the cause of the sinking, which killed 38 sailors and left eight others missing.
“From our standpoint, the investigation is ongoing and we continue to cooperate with South Korea in that investigation,” Crowley said.
South Korea has not yet determined the cause of the sinking near the maritime border with North Korea, the scene of three bloody inter-Korean naval skirmishes over the past decade.
However, Seoul officials, investigating the stern of the ship, which was raised last week, said an external explosion apparently caused the sinking and cited a torpedo attack as a highly likely cause.
North Korea last week denied any involvement, denouncing the South Korean government for floating the North’s possible involvement with the aim of garnering political capital ahead of the June provincial elections.
The incident also may undermine international efforts to revive the six-party talks on ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs, which Pyongyang has boycotted since early last year due to U.N. sanctions for its nuclear and missile tests.
Crowley said last week North Korea’s behavior “has an impact in terms of creating the atmosphere for the six-party process to move forward.”
Another State Department official, asking anonymity, would “not jump to a conclusion,” but added, “Obviously, certain results could have a profound effect.”
North Korea said this month that the Obama administration’s new nuclear policy has soured the atmosphere for the resumption of the six-party talks, and threatened to bolster its nuclear weapons and modernize them as a deterrent.
The U.S. this month renounced for the first time the use of nuclear weapons against nonnuclear weapons states in compliance with international nonproliferation obligations, but left open all options, including a nuclear strike, for North Korea and Iran.