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Questions raised following Cheonan announcement
The huge security breach and torpedo markings have both caused experts to raise questions about the investigation findings released Thursday
» The label “1 beon,” No.1, is written on the shaft of the propeller of torpedo presented by the joint military-civilian investigation team as the evidence of North Korea’s attack, May 20.
The joint civilian-military investigation team on Thursday presented propeller fragments from a North Korean torpedo as conclusive evidence as to the cause of the sinking of the Cheonan. A number of questions remain, however, such as why no North Korean submarine was discovered after the Cheonan was attacked.
The investigation team said that a North Korean Sango Class Submarine and Yono Class Submarine had left a naval base on the West Sea some two to three days prior to the attack and returned to base two to three days after the attack. They determined that the Yono Class Submarine carried out the attack.
A Sango, Shark Class Submarine, weighs 300 tons, while a Yono, Salmon Class Submarine, weighs 130 tons.
Until now, military officials have been saying they did not detect any unusual military movements from North Korea.
“From March 24 to 27, the military detected two North Korean Sango Class Submarines, but the likelihood of their connection to the sinking was judged to be weak.” said Defense Minister Kim Tae-young before the National Assembly on April 2.
“We have not detected any unusual movements from the North Korean military,” said U.S. Combined Forces Command Commander General Walter Sharp through a press release on March 28, two days after the sinking.
In other words, at the time, the Sango Class Submarine that was detected around the time of the sinking was not believed to be directly connected with the sinking, while the Yono Class Submarine was not detected at all.
The investigation team confirmed that around the time of the attack, they had been unable to clearly identify the submarines that had left the base. A military intelligence official said later, through comprehensive analysis of all sorts of intelligence material, including communication intercepts, video footage and human intelligence, they belatedly learned that a Yono Class Midget Submarine had left with its mother ship.
This explanation, however, failed to clarify all questions. A joint South Korean-U.S. naval exercise involving several Aegis warships was underway at the time, and the Cheonan was a patrol combat corvette (PCC) that specialized in anti-submarine warfare. The question remains whether it would be possible for a North Korean submarine to infiltrate the maritime cordon at a time when security reached its tightest level and without detection by the Cheonan.
“If the North Koreans were to try an ambush in revenge for the Daecheong Island naval clash, they would have done so only after they were certain of success following several infiltration exercises in the waters off Baengnyeong Island,” said a former Navy admiral. “The investigation team announcement basically stated that North Korea had planned an attack with a low probability of success on paper and successfully carried it out on one attempt, but that assessment lacks military credibility.”
In fact, if things transpired as the investigation team announced, then a North Korean submarine penetrated the South Korean-U.S. surveillance net, waited precisely where the Cheonan would be approaching, sank the Cheonan in one shot, and then leisurely disappeared after completely avoiding a naval anti-submarine net that included the Naval ship Sokcho and Linx helicopters.
Some have stated that while it was possible the Cheonan was unable to detect the submarine, it remains difficult to understand how it could not detect the torpedo launch.
“A submarine is supposed to be difficult to detect military, but most torpedoes can be detected,” said Kim Jong-dae, editor-in-chief of defense journal D&D Focus. “It is doubtful they would have been completely unable to detect the launch.”
One military official explained they were unable to detect the torpedo since the one used in the attack had a different audio range from those ascertained by the South Korean military, but some respond that it is difficult to understand why they would not have the audio information contained even in brochures regarding a torpedo that has been produced since the 1980s. Accordingly, in order to clear up these doubts, some are calling for the military authorities to release the communication intercepts to show the North Korean submarine‘s intent to attack. The investigation team, however, has reportedly been unable to secure intelligence data that would confirm clearly the circumstances of the attack besides the fact that the Yono Class Submarine left its base in North Korea.
There are also some questions regarding the North Korean torpedo fragment, which was presented as conclusive evidence. First, some experts stated that the marking 1 beon, No. 1, presented as key evidence that it was a North Korean torpedo, is different from typical North Korean markings.
“North Korea does not frequently use the term beon,” said one North Korea expert. “Instead, they use the term ho, as in Daepodong 1-ho, Gangnam 1-ho, etc.”
In fact, a North Korean training torpedo obtained by the South Korean military seven years ago was marked “4 ho.” In light of the fact that the beon discovered on the torpedo fragment and the ho found on the training torpedo are different, the investigation team could not have conducted a precise handwriting analysis. The team said it would consider a plan to determine the similarity through ink analysis, but it is uncertain whether a clear answer will result.
Both appear to have been written by hand inside the torpedo for organization and maintenance purposes, but why one is beon and the other ho is a question.
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Thank you. I have been looking for more information on the sinking from any source. I still have many questions on this. The DPRK usually claims a victory after actions. This incident baffles anyone who watches events in the region.
One thing that is troubling is the recent shifts in the DPRK military. Were some faction in the DPRK military acting unilaterally? Would Pyongyang know?
What is the SIGINT on this incident? We record everything. Was there an increase in traffic after the attack? What was the traffic like days before and after? Given that the West sea is loaded with US hydrophones where is the torpedo signature? There is no doubt that the ship was hit dead center with an external explosion, indicitive of a torpedo.
We need more information. Anyone have a link to the original press conference?
Other possible explanations arise as this subject is quite interesting for any observer.
The current possibility Oblisk (and the North Korean State) is proposing is that they did not destroy the sub and the United States and South Korea are plotting provocation from the DPRK. This is possible.
Another possibility and one I'm personally toying with. Won't be at all popular with those who think the North Korean State is 100% unified (such as Oblisk) but I'd like to toss the idea out there for those who may agree. The idea is that a possible split between the North Korean Military and the North Korean Communist Party exists. The danger with any nation which relies too heavily on the military to either stay in power or repel those who seek to topple them from power is a conflict between the two. The sinking of the submarine could be done by the military as a possible push to the North Korean Communist Party that one of their own should assume leadership after the current leader passes away. When the action was taken, the North Korean Communist Party and military alike claim they had nothing to do with the action (in order to stem possible external action against the DPRK).
Meanwhile internally the power struggle continues. While the military cannot openly subvert the current leadership because of the extensive personality cult which exists, the military can continue to play extremely high risk moves in order to obtain power, increased funding, and more influence on foreign policy matters. The Communist Party leadership will not dare dismantlement or remove funding from the current military for fear of a coupe and the military won't take over the leadership for fear of popular uprising in support of the Communist Party and their Dear Leader. So there exists a stalemate between the two and publicly both sides claim absolute loyalty to the other so that they don't appear weak to international forces.
But that's just an idea
That is an awesome idea.
And I really don't want this military taking over.
I think HateBot has a point. I can quite imagine an overzealous commander ordering the destruction of a South Korean vessel independent from his superiors. The North of course can't admit to this (though I think this was the excuse they gave for the kidnap of South Korean citizens a few years ago) as it would implie lack of 100% loyalty to Kim Jong Il and his lack of absolute authority over the military.
It will be interesting to see what China's report concludes as they have said today they won't "protect" whoever did it.
I find the entire situation fascinating and China's possible shift in policy even more so. If the Chinese probe claims North Korea did the attack then it would be a drastic shift in policy and something that will have serious ramifications for North Korea. If it finds otherwise however then the situation could tense up even more as a "Us vs them" mentality starts to brew between old allies and the West.
I really hope this happens. North Korea needs a powerful ally (or at least an emerging one) to help get it back on its feet and modernise. Much of its infrastructure badly needs upgrading for a start. The aid China has been giving the north is limited and not enough to get it back to what it was before the collapse of the USSR. In the long term, China getting closer to North Korea could be a stabilising force in the region.
couldn't they throw him in jail or execute him, something radical to show good faith? though they would be criticized either way.
The schizophrenic is the new jew.
As in the commander of the submarine? They may well have though it won't be published. If they admit that there are renegade commanders actively destroying South Korean shipping then it shows to both the North Korean people and the rest of the world that Kim Jong Il does not have the authority over the KPA that he says he does.
I don't believe in this "silent war" between the Party and Army.
Party IS the Army,and Army is,well,the Party.
Military has a privileged position in DPRK,it "comes first"-Songun policy.
Military is the strongest guarantee of Kim's rule,and he surely secured it to himself permanently with different privileges.
Army officers are the "Inner party",the elite of DPRK society,that's most likely considering the situation in DPRK.
DPRK has a long history of border conflicts with ROK,and several sea-clashes that even ended in serious damage/sinking(the last one happened in 2007 i think) so this sinking isn't something new or unexpected to me,to be honest.
What happens if they want more then? Or if Kim is beginning to try to wean off support of the military as his country continues to go through extremely difficult times in terms of food/basic services? Or if old Korean War generals have had their eye on control of the Communist Party since his father's reign, but couldn't do so because of a reasonable successor. Now with children of Kim's who aren't high party officials the transition of power is not clear cut in the least and their moment of opportunity to take over the country is drawing near as Kim's health and age begin to fade.
Just some arguments to support the previous one, I find it an interesting alternative theory
I doubt they could possibly get anything more than they have now.
If he didn't loose Army support during 90's turbulence and Arduous March,it's unlikely that he'll lose it now when the situation has stabilized,warmongers have been pleased with nuclear weapons etc.
luckily for north korea, china is defending north korea as well.
The schizophrenic is the new jew.
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