WMR’s intelligence sources in Asia suspect that the March attack on the South Korean Navy anti-submarine warfare (ASW) corvette, the Cheonan, was a false flag attack designed to appear as coming from North Korea.
One of the main purposes for increasing tensions on the Korean peninsula was to apply pressure on Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to reverse course on moving the U.S. Marine Corps base off Okinawa. Hatoyama has admitted that the tensions over the sinking of the Cheonan played a large part in his decision to allow the U.S. Marines to remain on Okinawa. Hatoyama’s decision has resulted in a split in the ruling center-left coalition government, a development welcome in Washington, with Mizuho Fukushima, the Social Democratic Party leader threatening to bolt the coalition over the Okinawa reversal.
The Cheonan was sunk near Baengnyeong Island, a westernmost spot that is far from the South Korean coast, but opposite the North Korean coast. The island is heavily militarized and within artillery fire range of North Korean coastal defenses, which lie across a narrow channel.
The Cheonan, an ASW corvette, was decked out with state-of-the-art sonar, plus it was operating in waters with extensive hydrophone sonar arrays and acoustic underwater sensors. There is no South Korean sonar or audio evidence of a torpedo, submarine or mini-sub in the area. Since there is next to no shipping in the channel, the sea was silent at the time of the sinking.
However, Baengnyeong Island hosts a joint US-South Korea military intelligence base and the US Navy SEALS operate out of the base. In addition, four U.S. Navy ships were in the area, part of the joint U.S-South Korean Exercise Foal Eagle, during the sinking of the Cheonan. An investigation of the suspect torpedo’s metallic and chemical fingerprints show it to be of German manufacture. There are suspicions that the US Navy SEALS maintains a sampling of European torpedoes for sake of plausible deniability for false flag attacks. Also, Berlin does not sell torpedoes to North Korea, however, Germany does maintain a close joint submarine and submarine weapons development program with Israel.
The presence of the USNS Salvor, one of the participants in Foal Eagle, so close to Baengnyeong Island during the sinking of the South Korean corvette also raises questions.
The Salvor, a civilian Navy salvage ship, which participated in mine laying activities for the Thai Marines in the Gulf of Thailand in 2006, was present near the time of the blast with a complement of 12 deep sea divers.
Beijing, satisfied with North Korea’s Kim Jong Il’s claim of innocence after a hurried train trip from Pyongyang to Beijing, suspects the U.S. Navy’s role in the Cheonan’s sinking, with particular suspicion on the role of the Salvor. The suspicions are as follows:
1. The Salvor engaged in a seabed mine-installation operation, in other words, attaching horizontally fired anti-submarine mines on the sea floor in the channel.
2. The Salvor was doing routine inspection and maintenance on seabed mines, and put them into an electronic active mode (hair trigger release) as part of the inspection program.
3. A SEALS diver attached a magnetic mine to the Cheonan, as part of a covert program aimed at influencing public opinion in South Korea, Japan and China.
The Korean peninsula tensions have conveniently overshadowed all other agenda items on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visits to Beijing and Seoul.
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report(subscription required).