South Korea to take ship case to U.N

Sun May 23, 2010 12:27pm EDT
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By Cheon Jong-woo

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea said on Sunday it would take the case of its sunken naval vessel to the U.N. Security Council to try to tighten the economic vice on impoverished North Korea after accusing it of torpedoing the ship.

The sinking in March of the Cheonan corvette, killing 46 sailors, has sharply raised tensions on the Korean peninsula, rattled investors in South Korea and threatens to divide major powers in the economically powerful region.

"The president will present frameworks of measures, one about our own steps and the other about measures through international cooperation ... He will also mention a plan to bring the case to the U.N. Security Council," presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan said.

He said President Lee Myung-bak would address the issue in a speech on Monday, scheduled for 0100 GMT (9 p.m. EDT Sunday).

In what is likely to further goad the prickly North, the spokesman said the president may mention North Korean leader Kim Jong-il by name in his speech.

Pyongyang, which says it is innocent, is already fuming after international investigators pointed the finger of blame at a North Korean submarine and said it was ready to go to war if South Korea retaliated.

Seoul has made clear it will not launch any military strike and, because relations have almost frozen since Lee took office in 2008, has little left to punish North Korea apart from seeking more international economic sanctions.

South Korea can be sure of a sympathetic hearing from permanent U.N. Security Council members the United States and Britain, both of which sent officials to help the investigation into the sinking.   Continued...

<p>A man looks at a portrait of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il during the Korean War exhibition at the Korean War Memorial Museum in Seoul May 23, 2010. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak</p>