New research has suggested that North Korea may not have been responsible for the sinking of a South Korean warship, ‘Cheonan’ on 26 March 2010.
According to the Nature News, on 20 May, two months after the sinking of a South Korean warship, the country released a report blaming its northern neighbour. The Joint Investigation Group (JIG), composed of civilian and military experts from Korea and some advisers from the United Kingdom, the United States, Sweden and Australia, concluded that North Korea had torpedoed the ship and was responsible for the deaths of 46 crewmembers.
That report soon came under fire from South Korean opposition politicians and an influential South Korean civil liberties group. Now some scientists are lending their weight to the critique. The group’s evidence included “Fragments of a torpedo found near the ship which had the same dimensions as torpedoes pictured in North Korean munitions pamphlets and had ink markings identifying it as North Korean,” the report said.
“In the JIG’s report, electron dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) analysis shows the samples to be nearly identical to each other and with those produced in a simulated test explosion: each has similar-sized peaks showing the presence of aluminium, oxygen, carbon and other elements. X-ray diffraction analysis likewise shows the torpedo sample to have the same signature as the ship sample. But on one point, the EDS data and X-ray data are different, the X-ray data lack any sign of aluminium or aluminium oxide,” the journal quoted Seung-Hun Lee, a Korean physicist at the University of Virginia, as saying.
Experiments carried out independently by Panseok Yang, a technician specializing in mass spectrometry at the geological sciences department of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, found that the ratio of oxygen to aluminium in the rapidly cooling aluminium would be much lower than suggested by the JIG.
Lee also said that the JIG did not explain why the blue ink on the torpedo that apparently identified it as North Korean did not melt, as the temperatures following its detonation would have been high enough to melt the paint.
The People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, a Seoul-based organisation that acts as a watchdog on government authority, in its letter to the United Nations Security Council alleged that the report’s claim that a torpedo-induced water column sank the ‘Cheonan’ contradicted earlier testimony from survivors that they did not see a water column or only felt water droplets on the face. It also questioned why the supposed torpedo launch was not detected, despite active sonar equipment aboard the Cheonan, the journal said.
According to the journal, Jae-Jung Suh, a political scientist at Johns Hopkins University working in Washington DC) has suggested possibilities that the warship might have been hit by a mine, probably a South Korean one or rammed by another ship. “South Korea should reopen an investigation, and the parliament should open an investigation into the JIG on suspicion of fabricated data,” Suh said. (ANI)”