North, South Korea to address UN over ship sinking


North and South Korea will address the UN Security Council separately today over the deadly sinking of a South Korean naval ship in March that has raised tensions on the Korean peninsula, Yonhap News reports.

South Korea had been expected to brief the Security Council some time this week on an international investigation into the sinking of the corvette Cheonan on March 26 that killed 46 sailors. Seoul has accused North Korea of torpedoing the ship.

North Korea asked Mexico’s Claude Heller, the Security Council’s rotating president, for a separate briefing session, South Korea’s Yonhap News quoted an unidentified diplomatic source in New York as saying.

The mounting antagonism between the two Koreas has unnerved investors, worried about armed conflict breaking out in the region, and set off a diplomatic scramble on all sides to cool tensions.

Many analysts say neither side is ready to go to war, but see the possibility of more skirmishes in a disputed sea border off the west coast or along the heavily armed border between the two Koreas.

Pyongyang has denied involvement in the Cheonan’s sinking, saying accusations against it were part of a US-led conspiracy and threatening war if Seoul imposes sanctions.

A team of international investigators, led by South Korea’s military, said in May that a North Korean submarine torpedoed the ship, presenting evidence that included parts of the weapon recovered from the site of the incident.

North Korea repeated its threat to blow up loudspeakers South Korea has set up at the border to broadcast anti-Pyongyang propaganda, keeping tensions on the peninsula at their highest in years.

The United States, the South’s biggest ally, said Seoul may not seek a full Security Council resolution because of rising tensions after the sinking of the Cheonan. Seoul said it would hold discussions with its allies to ensure action was taken.

Western diplomats say China, North Korea’s only real ally, will not tolerate new sanctions but will also try to avoid entanglement in the conflict, while Seoul appears determined to have the Council at least agree on some form of rebuke.

A report from a UN panel that monitors compliance with existing sanctions on the impoverished and largely isolated North showed more than 100 countries may not be doing enough to implement the punitive steps.


Pic: A South Korean military officer shows torpedo parts salvaged from the yellow sea after the attack.