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The "Cheonan" enigma

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A South Korean corvette, the "Cheonan", was sunk on 26 March 2010. At the request of the South Korean government, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and Sweden have established, together with South Korea, an international inquiry commission. The experts’ report, issued May 20, concludes that the ship was the target of a torpedo manufactured in North Korea, an allegation that Pyongyang strongly denies.

While the tone mounted on both sides of the line of demarcation, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, himself a South Korean military, has called on the UN Military Command to establish whether or not the incident constituted a violation of the armistice agreement between the two Koreas.

However, the Asian press is showing signs of increasing skepticism:
- The corvette was sunk in disputed waters which, if a peace treaty were to be signed, would be universally recognized as belonging to North Korea.
- The "Cheonan" took part in a vast naval military exercise. As such, it was embedded in an operational system that would have detected the presence of an enemy submarine and a torpedo firing.
- One of the South Korean committee members was relieved from his duties for having questioned the transparecy of the work done by his colleagues. According to him, in the absence of any signs of an explosion, it is impossible to assert that the ship was torpedoed.
- Many experts were puzzled that an identifiable piece of rubble from the tropedo could have been found when, in principle, they disintegrate as soon as used.

At this stage, Korean and Japanese journalists are considering the hypothesis of a provocation: the South Korean Navy executed its maneuvers in disputed territorial waters hoping for a North Korean response. It did not come; the "Cheonan" was sunk and a recognizable piece of debris was planted in the wreckage.

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