SEOUL — South Korea accused North Korea today of firing a torpedo that sank a naval warship in March, killing 46 sailors in the country’s worst military disaster since the Korean War.
President Lee Myung-bak vowed “stern action’’ for the provocation following the release of long-awaited results from a multinational investigation into the incident.
Reacting swiftly, North Korea called the results a fabrication and warned that any retaliation would trigger war.
Investigators said evidence overwhelmingly proves that North Korea fired a homing torpedo that caused a massive underwater blast that tore the Cheonan into two on March 26. Fifty-eight sailors were rescued from the frigid waters of the Yellow Sea near the maritime border of the two Koreas, but 46 perished.
Seoul “will take resolute countermeasures against North Korea and make it admit its wrongdoings through strong international cooperation,’’ Lee told Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia in a phone conversation, the presidential office said.
The White House called the sinking an act of aggression that constitutes a challenge to international peace and security.
North Korea continued its steadfast denials of involvement in the sinking and said it would send its own investigators, while warning that any punishment of the North would spark war.
“The all-out war to be undertaken by us will be a sacred war involving the whole nation, all the people, and the whole state,’’ a spokesman for North Korea’s National Defense Commission said, according to a report carried by the state-run Korea Central News Agency.