UNITED NATIONS, (Reuters) – The U.N. Security Council yesterday condemned an attack leading to the sinking of a South Korean warship in March, but stopped short of directly blaming North Korea. The council statement, by not identifying an attacker, was able to win consent from Pyongyang ally China for unanimous approval and also avoid further alienating North Korea, which the West wants to draw back to six-party talks on ending its nuclear program.
The council expressed “deep concern” over findings by a South Korean-led inquiry that North Korea had sunk the naval corvette Cheonan, but noted that Pyongyang had denied responsibility. North Korea’s U.N. ambassador described the statement as a “great diplomatic victory” for his country.
The envoy, Sin Son-ho, also said Pyongyang hoped to “continue the denuclearization process on the Korean peninsula through six-party talks.” It was not clear whether Pyongyang now wanted to return to those talks, which it declared dead in late 2007.
The council statement differed little from a draft agreed to by its five permanent members.
The draft was handed by the United States to all 15 council members on Thursday. South Korea has blamed the March 26 sinking, which killed 46 of its sailors, on a North Korean torpedo attack. It took the issue to the Security Council on June 4, requesting action to deter “further provocation by North Korea.”