HEADLINES -- May 20, 2010 at 9:12 AM ET
Thursday: South Korea Accuses North of Attacking Ship; Oil Reaches Marshlands
Torpedo parts salvaged from the Yellow Sea were displayed at a press conference in Seoul. Photo by Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images.
An international civilian-military investigation team said Thursday that evidence overwhelmingly proves a North Korean submarine fired a torpedo that sank a South Korean naval warship on March 26, killing 46 sailors in the country's worst military disaster since the Korean War.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said "stern action" would be taken following the release of the investigation's findings from the sinking near the maritime border between North and South Korea, where 58 sailors were rescued from the waters.
The investigation was based on the findings of 50 experts from South Korea who worked with 24 investigators from the United States, Australia, Britain and Sweden.
President Myung-bak said South Korea "will take resolute countermeasures against North Korea and make it admit its wrongdoing through strong international cooperation."
North Korea Navy Col. Pak In Ho told APTN, according to the Associated Press, "If the [South Korean] enemies try to deal any retaliation or punishment, or if they try sanctions or a strike on us....we will answer to this with all-out war."
South Korean and U.S. officials said they are also considering a variety of options in response, ranging from U.N. Security Council action to additional U.S. penalties, reported the AP.
The BBC breaks down the investigation:
"It was crucial to find direct evidence of the type of weapon involved....Just five days ago, they found what they were looking for -- the propellers, a propulsion motor and a steering section of a torpedo, a perfect match for a model known to be manufactured and exported by North Korea."
The Telegraph asks, "Is Korea going to war?"
"Analysts believe that the attack on the South Korean warship may have been prompted by the current North Korean succession. Kim Jong-il is widely thought to be in the process of handing power on to his third son, Kim Jong-un. In order to cement the younger Kim's power, and control of the army, North Korea could continue to launch strikes against the South."
The New York Times says the big question, according to officials, is:
"[W]hether China, North Korea's neighbor and a veto-wielding member of the Security Council, will go along with yet another international condemnation of the North. China backed sanctions against North Korea last year after the North tested a nuclear device, but it has reacted with extreme caution since the ship sank on March 26."
We'll have more on the tensions between South Korea and North Korea later today.
Oil From Spill Reaches Marshlands
Oil from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has been spotted from the Louisiana shore, blanketing a patch of marsh grass near the mouth of the Mississippi River, reports the Times-Picayune:
"A few feet inside the marsh grass, where the currents move the water less, there was a thick coating of oil -- much different from the random, smaller clumps of oil or thin sheens seen during the past two weeks across Louisiana's coastline."
"This is a small area," Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser told the Times-Picayune. "If this comes in in waves and goes farther inland into the marsh, we'll be 25 to 30 years, if ever, recovering from this."
Meantime, BP will try as early as Sunday to inject heavy drilling fluids and cement into the well to seal it, a tactic known as "top kill," Doug Suttles, chief operating officer of exploration and production for the company, said Wednesday.
"Let's all keep our fingers crossed, let's all say our prayers," U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry, the federal government's coordinator with BP, said at the press conference. "Everybody's anxious to see success with this intervention."
Unemployment Claims Rise Unexpectedly
The number of people filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week by the largest amount in three months, handing a setback to hopes that layoffs were declining.
Applications for unemployment benefits rose to 471,000 last week, up by 25,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the first increase in five weeks and the biggest jump since a gain of 40,000 in February.