The sinking of the Cheonan: Another Gulf of Tonkin incident

By Stephen Gowans

While the South Korean government announced on May 20 that it has overwhelming evidence that one of its warships was sunk by a torpedo fired by a North Korean submarine, there is, in fact, no direct link between North Korea and the sunken ship. And it seems very unlikely that North Korea had anything to do with it.

That’s not my conclusion. It’s the conclusion of Won See-hoon, director of South Korea’s National Intelligence. Won told a South Korean parliamentary committee in early April, less than two weeks after the South Korean warship, the Cheonan, sank in waters off Baengnyeong Island, that there was no evidence linking North Korea to the Cheonan’s sinking. (1)

South Korea’s Defense Minister Kim Tae-young backed him up, pointing out that the Cheonan’s crew had not detected a torpedo (2), while Lee Ki-sik, head of the marine operations office at the South Korean joint chiefs of staff agreed that “No North Korean warships have been detected…(in) the waters where the accident took place.” (3)

Notice he said “accident.”

Soon after the sinking of the South Korean warship, the Cheonan, Defense Minister Kim Tae-young ruled out a North Korean torpedo attack, noting that a torpedo would have been spotted, and no torpedo had been spotted. Intelligence chief Won See-hoon, said there was no evidence linking North Korea to the Cheonan’s sinking.

Defense Ministry officials added that they had not detected any North Korean submarines in the area at the time of the incident. (4) According to Lee, “We didn’t detect any movement by North Korean submarines near” the area where the Cheonan went down. (5)

When speculation persisted that the Cheonan had been sunk by a North Korean torpedo, the Defense Ministry called another press conference to reiterate “there was no unusual North Korean activities detected at the time of the disaster.” (6)

A ministry spokesman, Won Tae-jae, told reporters that “With regard to this case, no particular activities by North Korean submarines or semi-submarines…have been verified. I am saying again that there were no activities that could be directly linked to” the Cheonan’s sinking. (7)

Rear Admiral Lee, the head of the marine operations office, added that, “We closely watched the movement of the North’s vessels, including submarines and semi-submersibles, at the time of the sinking. But military did not detect any North Korean submarines near the country’s western sea border.” (8)

North Korea has vehemently denied any involvement in the sinking.

So, a North Korean submarine is now said to have fired a torpedo which sank the Cheonan, but in the immediate aftermath of the sinking the South Korean navy detected no North Korean naval vessels, including submarines, in the area. Indeed, immediately following the incident defense minister Lee ruled out a North Korean torpedo attack, noting that a torpedo would have been spotted, and no torpedo had been spotted. (9)

The case gets weaker still.

It’s unlikely that a single torpedo could split a 1,200 ton warship in two. Baek Seung-joo, an analyst with the Korea Institute for Defense Analysis says that “If a single torpedo or floating mine causes a naval patrol vessel to split in half and sink, we will have to rewrite our military doctrine.” (10)

The Cheonan sank in shallow, rapidly running, waters, in which it’s virtually impossible for submarines to operate. “Some people are pointing the finger at North Korea,” notes Song Young-moo, a former South Korean navy chief of staff, “but anyone with knowledge about the waters where the shipwreck occurred would not draw that conclusion so easily.” (11)

Contrary to what looks like an improbable North-Korea-torpedo-hypothesis, the evidence points to the Cheonan splitting in two and sinking because it ran aground upon a reef, a real possibility given the shallow waters in which the warship was operating. According to Go Yeong-jae, the South Korean Coast Guard captain who rescued 56 of the stricken warship’s crew, he “received an order …that a naval patrol vessel had run aground in the waters 1.2 miles to the southwest of Baengnyeong Island, and that we were to move there quickly to rescue them.” (12)

Some members of South Korea’s opposition parties – which have been highly critical of the government for blaming North Korea for the disaster– “contend that the boat was sunk either by a ‘friendly fire’ torpedo during a training exercise or that it broke part while trying to get off a reef.” (13) Whatever the cause, they don’t believe the findings of the official inquiry.

So how is it that what looked like no North Korean involvement in the Cheonan’s sinking, according to the South Korean military in the days immediately following the incident, has now become, one and half months later, an open and shut case of North Korean aggression, according to government-appointed investigators?

South Korean president Lee Myung-bak is a North Korea-phobe who prefers a confrontational stance toward his neighbor to the north to the policy of peaceful coexistence and growing cooperation favored by his recent predecessors. His foreign policy rests on the goal of forcing the collapse of North Korea.

The answer has much to do with the electoral fortunes of South Korea’s ruling Grand National Party, and the party’s need to marshal support for a tougher stance on the North. Lurking in the wings are US arms manufacturers who stand to profit if South Korean president Lee Myung-bak wins public backing for beefed up spending on sonar equipment and warships to deter a North Korean threat – all the more likely with the Cheonan incident chalked up to North Korean aggression.

Lee is a North Korea-phobe who prefers a confrontational stance toward his neighbor to the north to the policy of peaceful coexistence and growing cooperation favored by his recent predecessors (and by Pyongyang, as well. It’s worth mentioning that North Korea supports a policy of peace and cooperation. South Korea, under its hawkish president, does not.) Fabricating a case against the North serves Lee in a number of ways. If voters in the South can be persuaded that the North is indeed a menace – and it looks like this is exactly what is happening – Lee’s hawkish policies will be embraced as the right ones for present circumstances. This will prove immeasurably helpful in upcoming mayoral and gubernatorial elections in June. (14)

What’s more, Lee’s foreign policy rests on the goal of forcing the collapse of North Korea. When he took office in February 2008, he set about reversing a 10-year-old policy of unconditional aid to the North. He has also refused to move ahead on cross-border economic projects. (15) Lee’s goal, as Selig Harrison, the US establishment’s foremost liberal expert on Korea describes it, is to “once again [seek] the collapse of the North and its absorption by the South.” (16) Forcing the collapse of North Korea was the main policy of past right-wing and military governments to which Lee’s government is historically linked. The claim that the sinking of the Cheonan is due to an unprovoked North Korean torpedo attack makes it easier for Lee to drum up support for his confrontational stance.

But it does more than that. It also helps Lee move ahead with his goal of re-unifying the Korean peninsula by engineering the collapse of the North. Lee has used the Cheonan incident to: cut off trade with the North; block the North’s use of the South’s shipping lanes; argue for stepped up international sanctions against Pyongyang; call for the beefing up of the South’s military; and issue a virtual declaration of war, branding North Korea the South’s principal foe and announcing that “It is now time for the North Korean regime to change.” (17) Seoul already spends $20 billion per year on its armed forces, almost three times more than the $7 billion Pyongyang allocates to military spending. South Korea has one of the most miserly social welfare systems in the industrialized world, in part because it spends so much on defense. (18) Only 28 percent of the South’s working population is covered by a government pension plan, a state of affairs that has given rise to “’silver’ job fairs, established to find jobs for people aged 60 and over.” (19) Even so, the South’s military spending as a percentage of its GDP is a drop in the bucket compared to the North’s. With a smaller economy, North Korea struggles (and fails) to keep up with its more formidably armed neighbor, channeling a crushingly large percentage of its GDP into defense. It is caught in a difficult bind in which it not only has to defend its borders against South Korea, but against the 30,000 US troops stationed on the Korean peninsula and twice as many more in nearby Japan. By expanding the South’s military budget, and using the Cheonan affair to put the country on a virtual war footing, Lee forces the North to either divert even more of its limited resources to its military – a reaction which will ratchet up the misery factor inside the North as guns take even more of a precedence over butter – or leave itself inadequately equipped to defend itself.

This meshes well with calls from the RAND Corporation for South Korea to buy sensors to detect North Korean submarines and more warships to intercept North Korean naval vessels. (20) An unequivocal US-lackey – protesters have called the security perimeter around Lee’s office “the U.S. state of South Korea” (21) – Lee would be pleased to hand US corporations fat contracts to furnish the South Korean military with more hardware. Lee’s right-wing party and US military contractors win, while North Koreans and the bulk of Koreans of the south are sacrificed on the altar of South Korean militarism.

The United States, too, has motivations to fabricate a case against North Korea. One is to justify the continued presence, 65 years after the end of WWII, of US troops on Japanese soil. Many Japanese bristle at what is effectively a permanent occupation of their country by more than a token contingent of US troops. There are 60,000 US soldiers, airmen and sailors in Japan. Washington, and the Japanese government – which, when it isn’t willingly collaborating with its own occupiers, is forced into submission by the considerable leverage Washington exercises — justifies the US troop presence through the sheer sophistry of presenting North Korea as an ongoing threat. The claim that North Korea sunk the Cheonan in an unprovoked attack strengthens Washington’s case for occupation. Not surprisingly, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has seized on the Cheonan incident to underline “the importance of the America-Japanese alliance, and the presence of American troops on Japanese soil.” (22)

Given these political realities, it comes as no surprise that from the start members of Lee’s party blamed the sinking of the Cheonan on a North Korean torpedo, (23) just as members of the Bush administration immediately blamed 9/11 on Saddam Hussein, and then proceeded to look for evidence to substantiate their case, in the hopes of justifying an already planned invasion. (Later, the Bush administration fabricated an intelligence dossier on Iraq’s banned weapons.) In fact, the reason the ministry of defense felt the need to reiterate there was no evidence of a North Korean link was the persistent speculation of GNP politicians that North Korea was the culprit. Lee himself, ever hostile to his northern neighbor, said his “intuition” told him that North Korea was to blame. (24) Today, opposition parties accuse Lee of using “red scare” tactics to garner support as the June 2 elections draw near. (25) And leaders of South Korea’s four main opposition parties, as well as a number of civil groups, have issued a joint statement denouncing the government’s findings as untrustworthy. Woo Sang-ho, a spokesman for South Korea’s Democratic Party has called the probe results “insufficient proof and questioned whether the North was involved at all.” (26)

Lee announced, even before the inquiry rendered its findings, that a task force will be launched to overhaul the national security system and bulk up the military to prepare itself for threats from North Korea. (27) He even prepared a package of sanctions against the North in the event the inquiry confirmed what his intuition told him. (28) No wonder civil society groups denounced the inquiry’s findings, arguing that “The probe started after the conclusions had already been drawn.” (29)

Jung Sung-ki, a staff reporter for The Korean Times, has raised a number of questions about the inquiry’s findings. The inquiry concluded that “two North Korean submarines, one 300-ton Sango class and the other 130-ton Yeono class, were involved in the attack. Under the cover of the Sango class, the midget Yeono class submarine approached the Cheonan and launched the CHT-02D torpedo manufactured by North Korea.” But “’Sango class submarines…do not have an advanced system to guide homing weapons,’ an expert at a missile manufacturer told The Korea Times on condition of anonymity. ‘If a smaller class submarine was involved, there is a bigger question mark.’” (30)

“Rear Adm. Moon Byung-ok, spokesman for [the official inquiry] told reporters, ‘We confirmed that two submarines left their base two or three days prior to the attack and returned to the port two or three days after the assault.’” But earlier “South Korean and U.S. military authorities confirmed several times that there had been no sign of North Korean infiltration in the” area in which the Cheonan went down. (31)

“In addition, Moon’s team reversed its position on whether or not there was a column of water following an air bubble effect” (caused by an underwater explosion.) “Earlier, the team said there were no sailors who had witnessed a column of water. But during [a] briefing session, the team said a soldier onshore at Baengnyeong Island witnessed ‘an approximately 100-meter-high pillar of white,’ adding that the phenomenon was consistent with a shockwave and bubble effect.” (32)

The inquiry produced a torpedo propeller recovered by fishing vessels that it said perfectly match the schematics of a North Korean torpedo. “But it seemed that the collected parts had been corroding at least for several months.” (33)

Finally, the investigators “claim the Korean word written on the driving shaft of the propeller parts was the same as that seen on a North Korean torpedo discovered by the South …seven years ago.” But the “’word is not inscribed on the part but written on it,’ an analyst said, adding that “’the lettering issue is dubious.’” (34)

On August 2, 1964, the United States announced that three North Vietnamese torpedo boats had launched an unprovoked attacked on the USS Maddox, a US Navy destroyer, in the Gulf of Tonkin. The incident handed US president Lyndon Johnson the Congressional support he needed to step up military intervention in Vietnam. In 1971, the New York Times reported that the Pentagon Papers, a secret Pentagon report, revealed that the incident had been faked to provide a pretext for escalated military intervention. There had been no attack.

The Cheonan incident has all the markings of another Gulf of Tonkin incident. And as usual, the aggressor is accusing the intended victim of an unprovoked attack to justify a policy of aggression under the pretext of self-defense.

1. Kang Hyun-kyung, “Ruling camp differs over NK involvement in disaster”, The Korea Times, April 7, 2010.
2. Nicole Finnemann, “The sinking of the Cheonan”, Korea Economic Institute, April 1, 2010.
3. “Military leadership adding to Cheonan chaos with contradictory statements”, The Hankyoreh, March 31, 2010.
4. “Birds or North Korean midget submarine?” The Korea Times, April 16, 2010.
5. Ibid.
6. “Military plays down N.K. foul play”, The Korea Herald, April 2, 2010.
7. Ibid.
8. “No subs near Cheonan: Ministry”, JoongAng Daily, April 2, 2010.
9. Jean H. Lee, “South Korea says mine from the North may have sunk warship”, The Washington Post, March 30, 2010.
10. “What caused the Cheonan to sink?” The Chosun Ilbo, March 29, 2010.
11. Ibid.
12. “Military leadership adding to Cheonan chaos with contradictory statements”, The Hankyoreh, March 31, 2010.
13. Barbara Demick, “In South Korea, competing reactions to sinking of warship”, The Los Angeles Times, May 28, 2010.
14. Framing the Cheonan sinking as an act of unprovoked north Korean aggression did not benefit Lee Myung-bak and his GNP party as much as Lee and the party may have hoped. Indeed, the GNP was disappointed with its showing in the June 2 elections. Even so, on the eve of the election, Martin Fackler, writing in the New York Times of June 1, 2010 (Ship sinking aids ruling party in S. Korean vote) noted that:

“Soon after taking office two years ago, Mr. Lee appeared at risk of losing public support, as he faced mass demonstrations on the streets of Seoul against the import of United States beef. Now, political experts are talking about the “Cheonan effect,” as polls show that more than half of expected voters approve of the president and his tougher line toward the North.

“Nowhere is the current upwelling of popular support more apparent than in polling for the local elections to be held across South Korea on Wednesday. Mr. Lee’s Grand National Party, whose candidates once faced tight races in some districts, now appears poised to sweep the most important races, including hotly contested mayoral elections in Seoul and the nearby port of Incheon.

“Kim Moon-soo, the conservative governor of a province outside Seoul, just two weeks ago was in an uphill battle for re-election against a liberal opponent. Now, polls show him with a comfortable 15 percentage point lead. ”

Fackler continued:

“Politicians and political analysts agree that voters decisively turned to the Grand National Party after the announcement on May 20 of the results of an international inquiry into the sinking that found North Korea responsible. Political analysts said the results were enough to persuade many undecided voters to swing to the conservatives, who are seen as stronger on defense.”

15. Blaine Harden, “Brawl Near Koreas’ Border,” The Washington Post, December 3, 2008.
16. Selig S. Harrison, “What Seoul should do despite the Cheonan”, The Hankyoreh, May 14, 2010.
17. “Full text of President’s Lee’s national address”, The Korea Times, May 24, 2010.
18. Selig S. Harrison, “What Seoul should do despite the Cheonan”, The Hankyoreh, May 14, 2010.

According to Thom Shanker and David E. Sanger, writing in The New York Times of May 30, 2010 (“U.S. aid to South Korea with naval defense plan”), there are 28,500 US troops in south Korea. South Korea has between 600,000 and 700,000 troops. The North has 1.2 million active-duty military personnel, but “many are poorly trained, or put to work building housing.” The core of the north Korean military is comprised of 80,000 special operations forces.

Hence, there are about 1 million combat ready US and south Korean troops on the Korean peninsula posed against slightly more north Korean troops, many of whom are performing non-military functions. The rough equality in number of troops is preponderated by the sophistication of south Korean’s military equipment and its ability to call on US military superiority in the event of a conflict.

19. Su-Hyun Lee, “Aging and seeking work in South Korea,” The New York Times, September 11, 2009.
20. “Kim So-hyun, “A touchstone of Lee’s leadership”, The Korea Herald, May 13, 2010.

Thom Shanker and David E. Sanger, writing in The New York Times of May 30, 2010 (“U.S. aid to South Korea with naval defense plan”) noted that:

(i) senior American officials were surprised “how easily [the Cheonan] was sunk by what an international investigation concluded was a North Korean torpedo fired from a midget submarine”; and

(ii) the waters in which the Cheonan sunk were considered too shallow to allow a submarine to operate and therefore did not warrant close monitoring.

There are two inferences that can be drawn from these observations:

(A) The inquiry’s findings are improbable;
(B) The north Koreans are devious and more formidable than we thought and therefore the south Koreans need to buy monitoring equipment from US arms manufacturers to plug this national security hole.

Predictably, The New York Times reporters opted for inference B. Inference A wasn’t considered, presumably unthinkable in the newspaper’s newsroom.

21. The New York Times, June 12, 2008.
22. Mark Landler, “Clinton condemns attack on South Korean Ship”, The New York Times, May 21, 2010.
23. Kang Hyun-kyung, “Ruling camp differs over NK involvement in disaster”, The Korea Times, April 7, 2010.

According to the JoongAng Daily of May 29, 2010 (“Probe member summoned on false rumor allegations”) Shin Sang-cheol, a member of the taskforce that investigated the sinking of the Cheonan, but who was replaced for “arousing public mistrust in the probe”, “has repeatedly claimed that the sinking was just an accident, and that the South had tampered with evidence to blame the North.” Shin, linked to the opposition Democratic Party, served on a south Korean patrol boat in the Yellow Sea as a Navy second lieutenant. Later he worked for seven years at a shipbuilding firm.

Meanwhile, Park Sun-won, former south Korean president Roh Moo-hyun’s secretary for national security, and now a visiting fellow at the Brooking Institution, has accused the Lee administration of concealing information about the sinking.

Both men are under investigation by south Korean authorities for “spreading false rumors,” clearly an effort by Seoul to deter anyone in the South from pointing out the weaknesses of the inquiry’s findings.

Shin’s and Park’s motivations for calling the probe’s findings into question, however, may be the same as the motivations of GNP politicians for accusing the north Koreans of sinking the warship: partisan political advantage. Both Shin and Park are associated with the Democratic Party, whose electoral fortunes in the impending elections are likely to suffer as a result of the GNP concocting a “red-scare” incident to rally support around. It’s in their partisan interests to poke holes in the inquiry’s findings.

24. “Kim So-hyun, “A touchstone of Lee’s leadership”, Korea Herald, May 13, 2010.
25. Kang Hyun-kyung, “Ruling camp differs over NK involvement in disaster”, The Korea Times, April 7, 2010; Choe Sang-Hun, “South Korean sailors say blast that sank their ship came from outside vessel”, The New York Times, April 8, 2010.
26. Cho Jae-eun, “Probe satisfies some, others have doubts”, JoongAng Daily, May 21, 2010.
27. “Kim So-hyun, “A touchstone of Lee’s leadership”, The Korea Herald, May 13, 2010.
28. “Seoul prepares sanctions over Cheonan sinking”, The Choson Ilbo, May 13, 2010.
29. Cho Jae-eun, “Probe satisfies some, others have doubts”, JoongAng Daily, May 21, 2010.
30. Jung Sung-ki, “Questions raised about ‘smoking gun'”, The Korea Times, May 20, 2010.
31. Ibid.
32. Ibid.
33. Ibid.
34. Ibid.

Most of the articles cited here are posted on Tim Beal’s DPRK- North Korea website,, an invaluable resource for anyone interested in Korea.

Updated June 3, 2010.

67 thoughts on “The sinking of the Cheonan: Another Gulf of Tonkin incident

  1. The question of a torpedo and the sinking of the Cheonan is raised again by “The Joint Investigation Report On the Attack Against ROK Ship Cheonan” issued by the Ministry of National Defense Republic of Korea on Sept 13, 2010 in Seoul Korea.

    The preface is available online at:

    Click to access 100913_Report%201.pdf

    That URL is given in a post on the Cable Blog at the “Foreign Policy” website:

    The Preface of the report is followed by some signatures. Canada is not among them and the Swedish signature is to a statement limiting what is agreed to by the Swedish representative. The Swedish signatory Agne Widholm, states that “I concur with the findings and conclusions of this report relevant to the Swedish team’s participation.” No other signatory has such limits.

    Some press is beginning to report about this, maybe this time, final Report:

    I hope many people will look at the Report and share their comments.

  2. Zhijun,

    I think you’ve got the wrong man. The article I wrote says nothing about the Cheonan sinking being an inside job by the US Navy. You must be thinking of an article written by someone else.


  3. Thank you for this article, gowans.

    If the Cheonan was an inside job done by the American allies, what motivation do they have. I dont’ think they want to start a second Korean war as that would draw China into it.

  4. This is hilarious. A poster of a sinking of a ship is now touted by the American “free press” as evidence in the sinking of Cheonan.

    The self-proclaimed Newspaper of Record should rehire Judith “Weapons of Mass Destruction” Miller to promote their war lies.

    It would be more convincing.

  5. Is there any evidence linking the warship in the poster to the Cheonan?

    According to the article itself, there is none. But the damage is done in the headline.

    The penultimate paragraph reads:

    “It remained unclear whether the poster was made before or after the Cheonan sinking, or whether it depicted an earlier North-South naval clash and was distributed now to put up a fierce face amid rising tensions with the West.”

    It’s like saying, “A rifle was found in the house of Mr. Stacy P. Bignuts of Brooklyn yesterday which fires the same calibre bullets that killed former US President John F. Kennedy. The discovery eerily evokes the Kennedy assassination. It remains unclear however whether the rifle was manufactured before or after the Kennedy assassination, whether it has ever been fired, and whether it has any connection at all with the Kennedy killing.”

    The article is no more and no less than innuendo aimed at reinforcing a six-decades long vilification of a country whose economics are offensive to the big business interests that dominate US politics and the country’s major media.

    If there’s not a shred of evidence linking the poster to the Cheonan sinking, why publish the article, if not to carry on the New York Time’s role as chief propaganda office for US foreign policy?

  6. North Korean Poster Depicts a Ship Suffering an Eerily Evocative Attack
    Published: July 16, 2010

    SEOUL, South Korea — A propaganda poster recently smuggled out of North Korea depicts the North Korean military smashing an enemy warship in half, a scene evocative of the sinking of a South Korean warship earlier this year.

    Although the poster did not identify the ship in the poster as the Cheonan, the South Korean corvette sunk in March, it raised suspicions that North Korea might have begun bragging about the sinking for domestic propaganda purposes, said Radio Free Asia, which released a photograph of the poster this week. …more

  7. No matter how the leaders of North Korea behave (short of capitulation), they will be, and have been, portrayed as insane, unpredictable, bellicose, thirsty for power, and so on. Believing that a targeted country’s leader has it within his grasp, through the deft use of diplomatic language, to escape a campaign of vilification, is wishful thinking, and fails to grasp the realities of imperialism. Were the North Koreans to use pacific and moderate language in the face of obvious aggression, they would, to be sure, please liberals in the West, who are invariably free with advice about how countries under threat and sanctions by their own government, should speak in more dulcet tones, to avoid handing the aggressor a justification for its aggression. But their moderate language wouldn’t alter in any way the structural compulsion that drives Washington and its allies to work for the absorption of North Korea into the capitalist ROK. And while aggressively defensive language may seem to hand the United States a justification for its imperialist predations, three things should be kept in mind: (1) the United States’ imperialist designs exist independent of the language the North Korean leadership uses in response to it; (2) the United States has never had trouble concocting justifications for its imperialism; (3) Washington rarely has difficulty eliciting the acquiescence of its population, including the liberal part of it, to it imperialist adventures, even those based on the thinnest justifications. Inasmuch as the continued existence of imperialism means an unrelieved threat to North Korea, the only option available to the DPRK leadership is to make clear in no uncertain terms (i.e., aggressively defensive terms) that it is prepared to fight to defend its sovereignty.

  8. On the contrary, it gave more ammunition that the US promptly used to justify its claim that NK is run by a dangerous madman. Video of the NK TV announcer making shrill threats is the only thing the west ever gets to hear of what NK is saying.

    And presumably it gave more ammunition to SK that emboldened it to claim yesterday that it wants to reprocess its nuclear waste – meaning it would have access to its own source of plutonium. The US promptly said “No, you can’t do that”, but doing it in public, when it could have been done privately, also sends a message to NK.

  9. No. The DPR Korea policies of the United States and South Korea are shaped by considerations other than Pyongyang’s rhetoric. What’s more, there is no diplomatic situation to be harmed. The Lee government’s stance toward North Korea is openly hostile and that of the United States has always been, and will continue to be implacably opposed to the very idea of DPR Korea. Speaking nicely to Washington and Seoul won’t change that.

  10. Do you think that North Korea’s rhetoric against the U.S. and South Korea hurt the diplomatic situation.

  11. In Voice of America:–98098809.html
    A new study by U.S. researchers raises questions about the investigation into the sinking of a South Korean navy ship. International investigators blamed a North Korean torpedo, raising tensions on the Korean peninsula.

    Researchers J.J. Suh and Seung-Hun Lee say the South Korean Joint Investigation Group made a weak case when it concluded that North Korea was responsible for sinking the Cheonan.

    Speaking in Tokyo Friday, the two said the investigation was riddled with inconsistencies and cast “profound doubt” on the integrity of the investigation. “The only conclusion one can draw on the basis of the evidence is that there was no outside explosion,” Suh said. “The JIG completely failed to produce evidence that backs up its claims that there was an outside explosion.” … more

  12. So Canada and Australia are off to join their imperial American ally to conduct an “investigation” about a US false flag provocation that doesn’t concern them.

    Can you say “American Toadies”?

  13. Nice comments, one more thing though is that North Korea stopped using Chinese letters 60 years ago, they use only traditional Korean unlike the South that uses both as unified Korea did before the split up. So the torpedo evidence are quite suspicious and if it was a set up then the person that arranged it is clearly incompetent.

    finally, North Korea requested permission to examine the evidence themselves and surprise surprise it was denied.

  14. Note on Canadian involvment in the investigation of the Cheonan incident

    There was a Canadian government press release(1) on May 16 stating that “Canada is sending three naval experts to South Korea…[to]…join a multinational team currently conducting an investigation into the sinking of the ROK Ship Cheonan.”

    This release was questioned because of the timing. The results of the investigation were announced in Seoul on May 20 but the they were being shared with foreign diplomats at least by May 18. So the announcement on May 16 in Ottawa implied the Canadians, if they did get to Seoul, would have been in Seoul too late to participate in any of the investigation.

    Asking the question, “Did Canadian experts get there in time?”, Michael Friscolanti on June 10 reported(2) in that:

    “Matthew Lindsey, a National Defence spokesman, insisted that the Canadian delegation ‘played a critical role in the Republic of Korea-led investigation.’ But he refused to provide any more details about that critical role, citing everything from ‘operational security’ to ‘the norms of international diplomacy.’ He wouldn’t say when the experts landed, when they left, or what evidence—if any—they examined. ‘What I can tell you is they were there for a short period of time in the later parts of the investigation, and they came back around the time when President Lee [Myung-bak] made his announcement,’ he said. ‘This is all the information I have.'”

    Following up on June, 22, David Pugliese on the “Defence Watch” blog at the Ottawa Citizen wrote(3), “I received an email sent by [Defence Department spokeswoman] Kathleen Guillot with media talking points…..adding a little more information.”

    Pugliese sums up some of those points:

    “Canada sent three experts in naval operations with significant submarine background to South Korea to support the independent investigation by various international partners. The Canadian team was presented with South Korea’s findings to provide technical analysis. The team studied and completely endorsed the findings, as did all other international participants. Canada was represented by Capt(N) Steve Virgin(4), who led the team of Canadian personnel who supported the independent investigation. The team was in Seoul for approximately eight days.”

    That says that the Canadans did NOT participate in the investigation. Instead. AFTER the investigation, “the Canadian team was presented with South Korea’s findings to provide technical analysis.” Then “the team studied and completely endorsed the findings.”

    Puglise adds, “The Canadian team arrived in South Korean on May 13, according to another email from Guillot.”

    Information provided by the Canadian government is contradictory. Was the team leaving Canada sometime after the announcement on May 16 or did it arrive in Seoul on May 13?

    But neither of these dates agrees with what the 5 page report “Investigation Result on the Sinking of ROKS ‘Cheonan'” by the Joint Civilian-Military Investigation Group dated May 20, 2010.

    The JIG report of May 20 mentions Canada only once:

    “. . . . 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, . . .”

    Considering the Canadian government information which says its experts arrived May 13 or after May 16, at best it appears to exaggerate the role of Canada to include Canada as a participant of something which the JIG claims was operating since May 4th.

    The dates and the role of Canada in something called the Multinational Combined Intelligence Task Force do not seem to justify any suggestion that Canadian experts “participated in the investigation.”
    1) (No. 165 – May 16, 2010 – 9:45 a.m. ET) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, today announced that, at the invitation of the Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK), Canada is sending three naval experts to South Korea.

    These experts will join a multinational team currently conducting an investigation into the sinking of the ROK Ship Cheonan (PCC-772). On March 26, 2010, the ship sank in waters near the Northern Limit Line.

    “Canada is strongly committed to the security and stability of the Korean Peninsula,” said Minister Cannon. “Canada-Korea bilateral relations are firmly grounded in our history of strong political and economic partnership and cooperation. We are pleased to provide assistance to a key partner in the region.”

    “The Government of Canada is pleased to be providing support to this investigation,” said Minister MacKay. “Our contribution of Canadian Forces expertise and experience to this multinational effort builds on the objective of the Canada First Defence Strategy to deliver excellence and project leadership abroad.”

    Canada has long enjoyed positive relations with the ROK. Both countries are hosting G20 summits this year.
    – 30 –

    2) “Did Canadian experts get there in time?” at


    (4) promoted to his current rank and appointed to Director Asia-Pacific Policy in 2009. (

  15. “A local civic group [the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), one of South Korea’s oldest and best-known civic groups] has submitted a letter raising suspicions about the cause of the Cheonan sinking to the UN Security Council, throwing a spanner into Seoul’s diplomatic efforts to draw international censure upon Pyongyang for the attack.”

  16. “Russian experts who carried out a probe into the South Korean warship sinking refused to put the blame on North Korea, military sources said on Tuesday.

    A team of four submarine and torpedo experts from the Russian Navy returned to Moscow on Monday after making an independent assessment of the March 26 sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan, in which 46 sailors were killed.

    A Russian Navy source said the experts had not found convincing evidence of North Korea’s involvement.

    “After examining the available evidence and the ship wreckage Russian experts came to the conclusion that a number of arguments produced by the international investigation in favour of the DPRK’s [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] involvement in the corvette sinking were not weighty enough,” a Russian Navy source told the Interfax-AVN news wire on Tuesday on condition of anonymity. Russia’s Armed Forces Chief of Staff Nikolai Makarov said only that the Russian Foreign Ministry would make an official statement on the issue after the experts prepared their report.

    “It is too early to make a definitive conclusion on the causes of the tragedy,” he was quoted as saying on Tuesday. ”

  17. Here is a link to an article on the Brewerstroupe blog, The Cheonan Sinking: Accident, False Flag or Enemy Attack?

  18. Grounding & Friendly-fire followed by finger-pointing to North Korea seems to be most likely.

    1.) The Cheonan grounded west of Baengnyeong Island in shallow waters. The propeller blades are badly damaged while getting off. This reduces speed and changes the acoustic signature of the Cheonan. From this time, the Cheonan is identified as an enemy by sonar systems.

    2.) Heading south, the Cheonan comes at the south-west of the island into the range of either a sub or a CAPTOR mine lying south of the island near the shore. There the Cheonan is hit by a Mark-48 torpedo Mod. 7.

    3.) The South Korea defence ministry “finds” some rusty parts of a North Korean torpedo. Funny enough there were no bigger or smaller parts from the Cheonan in the fisher net, so this was not the place of explosion!

    Keep in mind that the JIG investigated only the damage on the Cheonan and the most likely cause. Their conclusion was, that it must have been a torpedo, but they could of cause NOT say who fired it. The only link to North Korea were these rusted torpedo parts. A Mark-48 torpedo would have been an “absolute perfect match”, but nobody asked this question.

    Blaming the North came from the South Korean defence minstry.

  19. Don’t be crowing too loudly, Brad. You sound like one of those American shills who dsperatedly pushed those lies about “weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

    Russia and China have questioned the “independent” commission’s findings, especially through back channels.

    Beijing Suspects False Flag Attack on South Korean Corvette

    And the surest sign that the mainstream media has something to hide is when they start trying to dismiss political dissent as “conspiracy theorists.”

  20. So you read the article a couple of times, but still saw something in it that wasn’t there. And you accuse me of seeing what I want to see.

  21. Gowans: You are absolutely correct that the article did not suggest the Cheonan was hit by a US nuclear submarine (which, by the way, is a major argument by the denialists). On the other hand, you are absolutely wrong, I did read the above article a couple of times (and posted it on myspace blog).

    As far as your argument that the investigation is not “independent,” what will you say when Russia and other “neutral” countries (maybe including China!) endorse the investigation’s findings. I bet, since that doesn’t coincide with your preconceptions, you will dismiss their endorsement.

    If I may, this short quotation says it all:

    “Persistent denials of the evidence have nothing to do with science but are actually a matter of attitude toward the quest for truth. You need to be humble when searching for the truth.

    …So-called intellectuals and politicians need to listen to the words of a respected scientist so they can shake off the strange delusion that hoping that something is the case will make it so, while refusing to accept concrete evidence based on scientific verification.”

    –An Important Lesson for the Conspiracy Theorists, 2 Jun 10, The Chosun IIbo

  22. fabricating evidence is an anglo speciality …..
    **“The CIA,” he said, “loaded up a junk, a North Vietnamese junk, with communist weapons—the Agency maintains communist arsenals in the United States and around the world. They floated this junk off the coast of central Vietnam. Then they shot it up and made it look like a fire fight had taken place, and they brought in the American press. Based on this evidence, two Marine landing teams went into Danang and a week after that the American air force began regular bombing of North Vietnam.” An invasion that took three million lives was under way.**

  23. I just read a few articles about the results of the South Korean election and it seems that the “Cheonan Effect” was exaggerated by the media. Hopefully, this shows the beginning of a backlash against Lee and that the opposition will show that their are many holes in the official story and change the current popular opinion among South Koreans that North Korea is responsible.

  24. Looks very much like a Tonkin incident especially as Japan was going to end the lease the US had on the military base in Okinawa and there is a US military base in South Korea whose lease is due to expire in 2012.

    Now Japan has renewed the lease on that military base as a result of the torpedoing and Yukio Hatoyama has resigned as Prime Minister. Presumably he’ll be replaced by someone whose conscience won’t be as troubled by the renewal of the lease despite promises made to the electorate.

    So who benefitted from the torpedo attack?

  25. How come the torpedo part presented as evidence of a N Korea strike was so intact? I would have thought that when a torpedo explodes it would be blown to bits. There seems to be no sign of an explosion on this large intact component…..

  26. Brad is afraid that if people start questioning the facts of the case, (as even some South Koreans are themselves doing–see the links above), then they willl ask a more explosive question.

    Cui bono?

    Who benefits from the sinking of the Cheonan?

    The answer?

    None other than America.

    Did an American Mine Sink the South Korean Ship?

    The Korean Crisis: Cui Bono?

  27. Brad,

    Apparently you never read the article. It doesn’t claim the Cheonan was hit by a US submarine.

    As to the report being independent, of what or who was it independent?

    Was it independent of the south Korean government, which established the probe which prepared the report?

    Was it independent of the members of the probe, who were appointed by the south Korean government?

    Was it independent of key south Korean allies, whose representatives were appointed to the probe by the south Korean government?

    Was it independent of the GNP, whose key members comprise the south Korean government which established the probe?


  28. Frankly, the above article is a bunch of denialist hogwash. Have you even read the independent report on the incident? There is no way the Cheonan was sunk by running aground on a reef (or hitting a US nuclear submarine for that matter). It is a transparently false rumor this article is supporting. The Cheonan damage couldn’t have possibly have suffered the damage it did by running aground on a reef, duh. Furthermore, how can you say the Cheonan was in shallow water when it sunk, then claim it was hit by a US sub? Instead, one of those micro-subs of North Koreas could theoretically operate in that water, and only one of their torpedoes would have the force to indirectly (through water pressure) collapse the hull. Shame on you Mr Gowans for spreading and supporting false rumors – you ought to be prosecuted for your malfeasance.

  29. Hello Stephen Gowan,

    your compelling piece is one of the best, if not the best, piece with many credible sources. Thank you for writing this. This article has been read around the world’s activists, and hopefully by policymakers.

    I have compiled the information available in English about this issue, and of course yours is at the top.

    I shared the article with Daniel Ellsberg and he comments:

    article is very impressive–even compelling, on its face–that the case is
    being hyped up and even manufactured by the ruling party.

    But I do note that his account of Tonkin Gulf is flawed. The August 2
    attack with North Vietnamese patrol boats DID take place, in daylight with
    many witnesses (though it was provoked by a covert US attack on NVN just
    before it); it was the alleged August 4 night attack that did not take
    place. And the Pentagon Papers did not reveal (the truth) that the attack
    was either manufactured or that it did not occur at all; this was the
    weakest part of the Pentagon Papers, which accepted McNamara’s testimony
    given just before this part of the Papers was drafted (by an active duty Air
    Force officer, who was wary of contradicting McNamara, even in a top secret
    account). The Papers did reveal that there had again been provocation, and
    that the evidence for an attack was ambiguous and contradictory (against
    official claims that it had been unequivocal), but they accepted,
    mistakenly, that there had been an attack on August 4. The conclusive
    contradictory evidence came later.

    This doesn’t mean that an analogy to the (alleged August 4) Tonkin Gulf
    “attack” is not appropriate: just, sorry to say, that the Pentagon Papers
    are not the appropriate reference here. (See my own memoir, or many books
    on the incident based on evidence subsequent to the Pentagon Papers).

    His article was otherwise very convincing.

    I hope this is helpful.

    I can be contacted at

  30. **We may never know the truth, but the Navy has turned this affair into an extensive public relations campaign. The “freedom bird” stopped in Guam to prepare the hostages for the media show in Hawaii. After arriving in Hawaii they were paraded in front of the media and then subject to two days of secluded “debriefings”, probably to ensure everyone understood the official story and the consequences of divulging “Top Secret” information to the press or family members. Within hours of arriving home, all these “heroes” appeared on all major news programs followed by excited warmongers stressing the evils of the Chinese military. Chinese human rights abuses were spotlighted, although the USA has more citizens imprisoned, and China has four times our population.

    There are many powerful Americans who would love a “Gulf of Tonkin” incident to ignite a Cold war with China. After watching news coverage of this recent standoff, it is apparent that many of these warmongers control the U.S. media. News show ratings tripled during the 1991 Persian Gulf war. Last week, a major television network inflamed tensions by asking President Bush if the USA would use military force to defend Taiwan. Bush said yes, but a wise President should have pointed out that it would be unnecessary since China has only 10% of the naval force needed to attempt an invasion. China is a poor country with internal unrest and surrounded by potential enemies, it has nothing to gain by attacking Taiwan. However, U.S. Navy Admirals have succeeded in using the U.S. media to establish China as a new enemy of the American people. **

    does this ring a bell ?

  31. I dont believe the DPRK sank that ship.Why?What would be gained by the DPRK for such an act?They have flatly denied it and i have no reason to disbelieve them.I think all this has more to do with ROK elections and naval refits worth billions of dollars than a threat from a small struggling,pressured and sanctioned country seeking to maintain its independance from overwhelming forces with the biggest guns.I wonder how many more wars the populace of the”international community”will put up with?

  32. Dissent within South Korea, unnoticed by the Western Press, is growing.
    Mr S.C.Shin, one of the original inspectors of the wreck, has written an open letter to Secretary of State Clinton. He maintains that the ship grounded in the shallows of Baengnyeong Island and suffered a collision, probably with a vessel sent to her aid, then sank. Shin is now being prosecuted for “spreading false rumours”

    Shin is not alone:
    ” Prime Minister Chung Un Chan ordered the government to find a way to stop groundless rumors spreading on the Cheonan’s sinking, the JoongAng Daily said yesterday. Prosecutors questioned a former member of the panel that probed the incident over his critical comments, the paper said. The Joint Chiefs of Staff sued a lawmaker for defamation after she said video footage of the ship splitting apart existed, a claim the military denies, Yonhap News reported.”

    Almost one in four South Koreans say they don’t trust the findings of the multinational panel, according to a poll commissioned by Hankook Ilbo on May 24.

    Park Sun-won has also been threatened with prosecution for voicing dissent:

    “Gagging the South Korean public has already been taking place openly. The Ministry of National Defense and the military have pressed defamation charges against former Cheong Wa Dae (the presidential office in South Korea or Blue House) National Security Strategy Secretary Park Sun-won”
    (Park Sun-won is a respected member of the Brookings Institution).

    South Korean religious leaders question conclusions of the Cheonan sinking investigation

    “Why have the survivors been strictly separated and controlled since the tragedy happened? Why are they not allowed to say anything about it, though they know the truth best?”

  33. AR, Your thoughts are clear till the “Leftists” part. You seem to have bought the “Right-Left Paradigm”. That is their divide & conquer tactic. As long as we are stupid enough to remain fighting among each other, THEY will never be held accountable. BTW, THEY could give a shit about Right or Left.

  34. Blowback?
    I am very impressed by the serious arguments here, against the official scenario as presented by the US and SKorea…

    Yet one point that is never mentioned in relation to this latest incident, is the attack by S. Korea on a N.Korean gunboat a mere 6 months ago that destroyed the N.Korean ship, also killing some of its sailors:

    It should be added, that the “disputed waters” referred to in the NY Times article is a border unilaterally drawn by the USA itself.

  35. btw “justwondering”

    canada is a fully paid up member of the anglo empire
    so this so called international panel is just another one of those god damned kangaroo court.

    in one of its exploits
    **Canadian politicians boast that Canada’s pilots flew 10 percent of the sorties against Yugoslavia, the third greatest number, after the UK and the US. They don’t mention the obvious implication: Canada killed 10 percent of the people.
    And Canadians have been involved in absolving NATO. The man who wrote the report declaring NATO innocent of war crimes was a Canadian. **
    [i want to thank stephen gowans for introducing me to the crimes and lies of the nwo more than a decade back, i once commuicated with him by email , wonder if he still remember ?]

    this is what the canadian politicians were boasting about, their 10 percent contribution in “humanitarian intervention” in kosovo

  36. Correction: the Joint Civilian-Military Investigation Group refers to a Multinational Combined Intelligence Task force, comprised of the USA, Australia, Canada and the UK, in operation since May 4th.

  37. The Joint Civilian-Military Investigation Group makes no mention of Canadian participation. Apart from SK and USA only Australia, the U.K. and Sweden are mentioned.

  38. qui bono

    hatoyama was facing tremendous pressure to make good his election promise to kick out the yanks….

    “no way babe”, the japanese pm told the dumbfounded okinawans representives triumphantly….”I decided that it is of utmost importance that we place the Japan-U.S. relationship on a solid relationship of mutual trust, considering the current situation in the Korean peninsula and in Asia,”

    anti base , anti occupation voices were getting more vociferous in sk
    [this link was about the brutal eviction of farmers in Pyeongtaek to make way for another us military base, i posted it just a few weeks earlier in the wapo, now its gone, not in google cache either, i managed to retrieve it from webarchive, but the pic of the bloodied old man is missing]

    anti base and anti occupation voices would be marginalised.
    sk prez’s hardline agenda gets a tremendous boost.

    arch rivals sk and japan have been feuding over the disputed dokdo island, amongst a host of other spats

    japan pledged “full support” to sk, us’s confrontation with nk.
    a united japan sk front under amerikka, not to mention india and us new found ally vietnam waiting in the wing….
    a nightmarish scenero for china.

    and….uncle sham is riding high, putting china in the defensive…again
    [see how the “guardianites” swallow the official story hook line and sinker]
    just like the way uncle maneouved to put china in a spot over the iran fiasco, forcing china to choose between ditching a buddy or face the wrath of the “international community”, [henceforth to be abbreviated to ic, its another one of the most abused phrase of the century, after hr]

    nk can forget about any more largese from the south
    and that’s just for starters…

    any self respecting sherlock holmes would not let pass the “qui bono” angle, but in the msm and even “progressive” sites like the guardian, itls already a foregone conclusion….nk did it.
    the discussion is “how do we punish it, ?”
    coz the “international” team of uncle sham [sic], uk [aka the poodle], australia [aka the deputy, howard was so pround of it], canada , in other words, the big anglo family with sweden tagged in to promote a semblance of “impartiality”………..say so !! [sic]

  39. Spot the mistake:

    Korean investigators believe that one or two North Korean submarines, a Yono class submarine and the other a Sang-O class submarine, departed a naval base at Cape Bipagot accompanied by a support ship on March 23. One of the subs, according to the report, detoured around to the west side of Baengnyeong Island, arriving on March 25. There, it waited about 30 meters under the ocean’s surface in waters 40 to 50 meters deep for the Cheonan to pass by. Investigators believe that the sub fired the torpedo from about 3 km away at 9:22 p.m. on March 26. The attack appears to have been timed for a period when tidal forces in the area were slow.

    Here is a direct quote from the Inquiry report:

    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.

    Click to access 100520_jcmig-roks-cheonan.pdf

    High quality intelligence? Compare it with the quality of intel the North Koreans must have possessed in order to predict the exact position and time at which a vessel and slack water would coincide to present a target for a slow moving electric torpedo at 3k range.

  40. Just one linguistic point to make. In the third paragraph, you paid particular significance to the word “accident”. I’m not sure that this is entirely prudent unless that sentence was said in English because although I’m not a speaker of Korean, there is a significant possibility that the word for “incident” and the word for “accident” happen to be the same word. Although this is pure speculation, my point is that you can’t rely that heavily on the English translation.

  41. Hi Steve:

    Could it be the South Korean military and government were keeping a lid on it at the beginning so that other countries wouldn’t say they were running at the mouth and that their own people demanding blood??? The idea being let cooler heads prevail until one gets all the facts?

    The international community that was part of the investigation also includes Canada and as you know, they don’t go anywhere they don’t usually like re staying out of Irak and Vietnam…

    Obama is no scare mongerer, well not usually.

    A mini sub with radar help from bigger ship, wouldn’t that get a torpedo to hit a target?

    From my readings, it is awful hard to find a ship in just a little water isn’t it?

    Now, if the NK also thought of putting a light thin coating of copper on their mini sub to absorb radar, wouldn’t that be hard to detect? (This is my musings only)

    You developed a good line of reasoning. Nice to find someone in a high place to accept of refute your ideas…

  42. “It’s worth mentioning that North Korea supports a policy of peace and cooperation.”

    Can you provide any supporting evidence of the existence of such a policy?

    The North Korean defense commission frequently makes threats of an “all-out war” whenever it looks to extract more aid or concessions from South Korea.

  43. false flag…..a case study.

    until this day, “company” veterans still reminisced fondly about this 1965 “classic” of a frame up, in one fell swoop, it liquidated “pro china” sukarno plus 1-2m “commies sympathisers”, including 500000 ethnic chinese who were cynically framed as china’s “5 columists”

    how the “humanrights” tag team us/uk conspired to fan hatred against china and ethnic chinese.[may be i should say “have been conspiring]
    [henceforth “humanrights” shall be abreviated to “hr”, as in “pr”, since this must be one of the most abused phrase of the century]

    it started with planted story in a hk paper about “chinese arms supplies for an imminent coup”
    **The army’s anxiety was increased by rumors, throughout 1965, that mainland China was smuggling arms to the PKI for an imminent revolt. Two weeks before Gestapu, a story to this effect also appeared in a Malaysian newspaper, citing Bangkok sources which relied in turn on Hong Kong sources**

    the “evidence”….conficated chinese arms, courtesy of cia.
    **The CIA is known to have had a large store of Chinese weapons at this time, which were used for a variety of purposes, including such “incriminating” schemes. **

    no conjecture here, these are all declassifiied materials…
    it was a classic us/uk scripted psyop
    **The Foreign Office replied: “We certainly do not exclude any unattributable propaganda or psywar [psychological warfare] activities which would contribute to weakening the PKI permanently. We therefore agree with the [above] recommendation… Suitable propaganda themes might be… Chinese interference in particular arms shipments; PKI subverting Indonesia as agents of foreign communists”.**

    and the rest is history.

    raising this bloodbath which occured 5 decades ago has its relevance here, the same template was later used to sabotage non compliant goverments in vietnam, chile, nepal, venezula, cuba etc etc….right up to yugo, iraq, afpak and currently iran……..or nk/china ?

  44. Dave Kimble
    I don’t think this is a pretext for war.
    The cui bono points towards:

    The Lee administration in South Korea is hard-line anti reunification, a stance that had them facing big losses in next month’s election – until this.

    The U.S. wants to stay in Okinawa and the Japanese were increasingly anti – until this.

    Watch out for more “Axis of Evil” type rhetoric linking Iran.

    This is an event but not a serious one. My feeling is that it is simply a case of piggy-backing on a naval disaster to further a PR agenda. It is win-win for the neocons: The pro-U.S. Lee Government gets re-elected, the majority of Westerners who don’t look closely at these things get spooked and Okinawa stays.

    Good link. The Russians don’t seem to be willing to let this one by. They grow in stature as they increasingly challenge bullshit from a rational and non-ideological perspective.

    Sean Mulligan
    Indeed there is. If the holes in this bullshit fabric become known before the elections, Lee’s Government is toast.

  45. We might also consider that Israel had some role in what happened to the Cheonan. Israel’s recent rage against North Korea over North Korea’s alleged sale of missiles to Syria is a possible motive for another Israeli ‘false flag’ event. Unlike North Korea, Israel has stealthy submarines, one of which may have been in the waters as a ‘friendly’ observer to the joint US/South Korean naval exercises.

    False flag events is Israel’s signature. No one should forget what they did to the USS Liberty.

  46. And with the MSM going on about tensions being at their highest for several decades, they then mention casually that SK and US are to start marine war games in the area next week. Gulp.

    The only thing that puzzles me is: if the SK-US invades NK, they would be removing China’s buffer zone, and then would be face to face with the Chinese. There’s no way the Chinese could allow this, so they would have to move in just as they did in the 1950s.
    And there is a small border with Russia on the coast, only 130 Km from the Russian naval base at Vladivostok. And for what ?

    So it doesn’t seem likely this sabre-rattling is for an excuse for invasion. The most likely explanation is that it is demonstration of how miserable it can be if you go up against the Empire.

  47. I have run this past an old mate of mine who spent his life in USN subs. Here is what he has to say:

    “45 meters of water is very thin water, for any nuclear submarine,which would require at least 25 to thirty meters of water simply to cover the boat at periscope depth. No way was a full size nuke submarine involved.

    Even the most daring and foolhardy diesel-electric submarine skipper would be hesitant to take his ship into 45 meters of water (in the vicinity of ships which could run him down either deliberately or by accident in those depths, submerged, and to navigate for an undetected approach, set-up and shot on a fast moving target such as this one, in those depths, would have been nigh unto impossible, as well as hair raising to even try. No way!

    A mini submarine could, if properly rigged and prepared in advance, possibly carry such a weapon and launch it, but this would have taken a long time to set-up, equip, outfit and plan. And it would still be a difficult to impossible to track set-up and shoot a fast moving target such as this with such a slow and navigationally limited mini-submarine.

    I see from the remains of the torpedo propulsion system that it was an electric motor driven torpedo. These do not usually have very high speeds or ranges,and doubt that you could hit a really fast moving target, 16 knots or more, with a single shot.

    In all probability the weapon was surface fired, either a high-speed steam or gas torpedo (of any make of model whch they might have wanted) or a missile. I am sure that any nation with a mighty naval force would have no difficultly coming up with either a working North Korean torpedo, or at least enough junk parts of one to plant the torpedo wreckage.

    Finding and recovering leftover parts from an exploded torpedo (or a basket full of junk parts dumped fro a surface craft or aircraft) in a mere 45 meters of water is not unfeasible, and most salvage operators could probably find such parts in a matte of a few days in that kind of water.

    But, as evidence, I would have to have absolute certainty that what they brought to the surface was actually the parts of the weapon which was used in the attack.

    I have known a number of Navy divers and, all good men, and competent in their professions, they are not necessarily renowned for their veracity. They will do and say almost anything they are ordered or paid to do or say.

    Felt tip marker pens whose images outlast galvanic activity in sea water? Probably possible! Depends on the quality of the ink. If you are going to use a pen to “identify” evidence which must be found underwater, I am sure they would select a good waterproof marker. I find that “Laundry” marker pens,the type used in commercial laundries, m are excellent underwater markers.

    I would check the degree of galvanic action. Remember, this “torpedo” had been supposedly fired only a few weeks ago before it was”found.” At the time of firing, a torpedo is in pristine “new” condition, and suffers from no previous galvanic or oxidation corrosion!

    How much galvanic action would one expect in that interval? And, such galvanic action is susceptible to very precise time measurement in waters of known electrolytic qualities.. If there was galvanic action evidenced at all, I would be surprised, and if there were significant evidence of galvanic activity I would suspect that this was the relic of some torpedo fired in some other place at some earlier time, and it was exposed to underwater corrosion for much longer than the interval cited in the time line of this event.

    The very bottom and hard line of this phony scenario presented by the “Official” story neglects one important fact.

    That “Joint Fleet” exercise included a number of the US Navy’s finest and foremost anti-Submarine warfare vessels, and no, definitely NO, alien or outside submarine which was not part of that operation would have had a snowball’s chance in hell of ever getting close enough to shoot any of the ships involved in that operation. No way!

    And, no friendly or allied submarines would have been participating in exercises in water that shallow, The dangers of being run down are simply too great.

    Based on those two ironclad facts, you can dismiss the North Korean or any other submarine attack scenario.

    This smells a too much like Black Flag, or an opportunistic exploitation of a fortuitous situation… in either case, this balloon is going to need all of the hot air it can get if it is going to fly.”

  48. This is the first thing that came to my mind also: The sinking of the Cheonan is another Gulf of Tonkin, a staged provocation designed to pressure and threaten North Korea.

    What is most damning is how many Americans (imperial) Leftists dutifully and unquestioningly repeat the official version of events and do not question the holes in the USA/SOK story.

    But then again, this is the same America that believes in fairy tales like 9-11 and Al-CIAda

  49. someone had seen this coming, although the crime scene is a bit off…..
    **Prime Minister Koizumi may think that, so long as there is the Japan-US alliance, all will be well, but it would not be out of character for Bush’s America to provoke a “Tonkin Gulf Incident” (when fabricated attacks on a US naval vessel in the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964 were used as pretext for the US to begin bombing North Vietnam) in the Taiwan Straits. Clearly cognizant of the existence of China, this Agreement includes provision for merger of Japan’s Self Defense Forces with the US military. The isolation of Japan in East Asia resulting from total subordination to the US is dangerous in the extreme**

  50. This is tantamount to having said in 1964, “I am confused about who fired upon the USS Maddox, if not three North Vietnamese torpedo boats.”

    Inscribed means stamped or embossed.

    There are a number of possibilities.

    The torpedo fragments are from another country.
    The torpedo fragments are north Korean, but are unrelated to the sinking of the Cheonan.
    The torpedo fragments are north Korean, and are related to the sinking of the Cheonan.

    Only one of these possibilities is consistent with south Korea’s conclusions. The idea, then, that the inquiry’s evidence is “overwhelming” and “definitive” (as Washington and Seoul have dubbed it) has no substance.

    1. The Lee government, and the United States, have compelling motives to attribute the sinking to north Korea (the Lee government to justify its hawkish policy toward the DPRK and Washington to justify its troop presence on Japanese and Korean soil.)
    2. Faking a pretext for a policy of aggression is hardly new or unheard of.
    3. It is clear that from the start the GNP blamed the incident on the north Koreans, without evidence. Was the purpose of the inquiry to “sex-up” (or contrive) the evidence against the north Koreans, to use a phrase made infamous by the Blair government’s fabrication of a casus beli against Iraq?
    4. The findings of the inquiry contradict statements made by the south Korean military in the days following the incident. (For example, the military was emphatic that there were no north Korean vessels in the vicinity.)
    5.There is no necessary link between the material evidence presented by the inquiry and north Korean culpability. (How do we know, even if the torpedo fragments are truly of north Korean origin, that they are related to the Cheonan sinking?)
    6.There is no process that allows the evidence presented by the inquiry to be tested.

    Given the above, there is (a) a strong prima facie case for skepticism and (b) a basis to suppose that that the Cheonan incident follows in the tradition of the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

  51. I am confused about where the torpedo parts came from, if not from a North Korean torpedo. Also, what is the distinction between written on and inscribed?

  52. I believe a precise keel shot with a torpedo would even breake a ship apart in WW2.

    Having said that, I have little or no trust in the media, or various governments.

  53. It is true that the Cheonan inquiry was made up of representatives of various countries that are hostile to north Korea. It was, then, “international,” in a very limited, and deceptive, sense. It wasn’t a board of inquiry comprised of members of the non-aligned movement, or drawn randomly from the UN general assembly, for example — boards that, had they been assembled, would have had a legitmate claim to being labelled ‘international’ in a sense that bears substantive, rather than deceptive, meaning. Labeling the inquiry ‘international’ is an attempt to deceive by using ‘international’ to mean ‘unbiased’ when the inquiry clearly wasn’t unbiased toward south Korea’s agenda. A board of inquiry assembled by the Soviet Union, comprising representatives of East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary and Cuba, would have been international, too. But it would hardly be expected that the board would have arrived at a conclusion at odds with Soviet interests. Likewise, the idea that a board of inquiry comprising representatives of countries that are south Korean allies, and which share an antagonism toward the DPRK, should render findings at odds with south Korea’s agenda, is absurd in the extreme.

  54. What was the makeup of the Inquiry Board that made the findings against North Korea? I thought it was supposed to be an international commission?

  55. Dear Stephen Gowans,

    Whilst I had expected you to deliver the goods on this latest Tonkin incident sooner or later, I didn’t expect it to be quite so quick and thorough! Thank you very much – you are an international treasure!

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