North Korea demands own inspectors probe South Korean sinking

SEOUL, May 22 (AFP) - North Korea today made fresh demands that the South must receive Pyongyang investigators and show them evidence that the North torpedoed a South Korean warship, killing 46 sailors.

“There is no ground whatsoever for the south side to refuse to receive the inspection group of the NDC (National Defence Commission) if the results of the investigation are objective and scientific as claimed by the south side,” the North's Defence Minister Kim Yong-Chun said in a message sent to the South.

“The south side should immediately receive the inspection group... and produce material evidence without a shred of doubt before it,” he was quoted as saying by Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency.
A multinational investigation led by South Korea concluded on Thursday there was “overwhelming” evidence that a North Korean torpedo split the 1,200-tonne corvette in two on March 26 in the Yellow Sea, killing 46 sailors.

In an unusually swift response, the North's powerful NDC, chaired by leader Kim Jong-Il, said on Thursday the report was based on “sheer fabrication”.

But South Korean Defence Minister Kim Tae-Young on Friday rejected the North's demand as “outrageous”, saying it would be “like a robber or a murderer insisting he must inspect the crime scene”.

South Korea said Friday the North should instead attend military talks with the US-led United Nations Command (UNC) after the command wraps up its investigation to review the findings of the investigation and determine the scope of armistice violation that occurred in the sinking.

The UNC has been in the South since the UN sent an international force to defend it after the Korean War broke out in 1950. The conflict ended in 1953 with an armistice but not a peace treaty.

However, the North's defence minister said Saturday the UNC has no authority to intervene, asserting that issues relating to territorial waters of the two Koreas must be handled by the militaries of the two sides.

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