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Updated: June 4, 2010 19:24 IST

South Korea urges world to punish North Korea over warship sinking

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President of the Republic of Korea, Lee Myung-Bak deliveres the keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue's Asia Security Summit in Singapore, on Friday. Photo: AP.
President of the Republic of Korea, Lee Myung-Bak deliveres the keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue's Asia Security Summit in Singapore, on Friday. Photo: AP.

South Korean President Lee Myung Bak on Friday urged the world community to take North Korea to task over the March 26 sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan, which claimed the lives of 46 sailors.

“Today, the Republic of Korea’s government referred the matter of North Korea’s attack against the Cheonan to the United Nations Security Council,” Mr. Lee said at the opening of a summit on Asian security in Singapore.

Pyongyang had to “admit its wrongdoing and must pledge to never again engage in such reprehensible action,” he added.

North Korea’s nuclear weapons drive and the Cheonan incident were serious threats to global security and peace, he said.

“North Koreans have to suffer the consequences”

Mr. Lee called on Pyongyang to “give up your nuclear weapons ambition,” noting that it was “never too late to embark on the path of mutual benefit.” He said South Korea was not seeking confrontation and war with the North, but together with the United States and other allies, had to respond firmly. The North Koreans “must understand very clearly that they have to suffer the consequences,” Mr. Lee said.

His remarks came amid rising tension and sabre rattling on the Korean Peninsula after the South, backed by the findings of a multinational investigation team, accused the North of sinking the Cheonan with a torpedo.

The Stalinist regime in Pyongyang, however, furiously denied any involvement in the incident and threatened to start an all—out war against the South in case of punitive measures.

The present situation on the Korean Peninsula was so grave “that a war may break out at any moment,” North Korean diplomat Ri Jang Gon told a UN forum on Thursday.

He blamed South Korea and the United States for aggravating the situation, saying they were seeking further sanctions against Pyongyang and “fabricated” the naval incident for that purpose.

Mr. Ri said North Korea was ready to react to any sanctions “with various forms of tough measures including an all—out war.”

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