April 30, 2010 08:27
Government officials say the wrecked hull of the Navy corvette Cheonan could in itself provide powerful evidence what kind of external explosion sank the ship on March 26, even if no shrapnel from a torpedo or mine is found. "We'd better not jump to any conclusion until the final outcome of the investigation, but the salvaged hull itself can constitute evidence," Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim Young-sun said Thursday.
A senior government official asked, "Is there decisive evidence other than the salvaged hull? It's important to find shrapnel of an explosive device, but that would be nothing but corroborating evidence."
The official added, "Even if we find shrapnel, North Korea will deny that it was from its weaponry. So if we conduct a precision analysis of the hull and determine that it was hit by a torpedo, we'll have secured more than 90 percent of the evidence."
So far the government has been saying that any North Korean involvement in the sinking can only be determined if fragments of an explosive device are found -- a position that would certainly help bolster international confidence in the investigation. But some experts say that has also limited the government's scope in investigating the cause.
Kim Hee-sang, the president of the Korea Institute for National Security Affairs, said, "North Korea is the only country that could launch a torpedo attack on the South in the West Sea. It's essential to analyze the hull and determine whether the ship was hit by a torpedo."
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