SEOUL, May 29, (AFP) - North Korea has flatly rejected evidence showing it torpedoed a South Korean warship with the loss of 46 lives, saying it does not own a midget submarine allegedly used for the March attack.
The North's powerful National Defence Commission (NDC), chaired by leader Kim Jong-Il, held a rare press conference on Friday and denied Pyongyang's involvement, according to official North Korean media.
|This undated handout photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 29, 2010 shows Major General of North Korean Army Pak Rim-Su during a press conference held by North Korean National Defence Commission at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang.
Major General Pak Rim Su, director of the policy department of the NDC, said the North does not have a 130-tonne “Salmon-class” submarine, which the South says torpedoed its 1,200-ton corvette, the Cheonan, in the Yellow Sea.
“We don't have anything like a 130-tonne Salmon-class submersible,” Pak was quoted by Pyongyang's Chungang TV as telling reporters.
A multinational investigation led by Seoul concluded earlier this month that the March 26 sinking was caused by a torpedo attack from the North.
South Korean investigators said a Salmon-class midget submarine had intruded into South Korean waters via international waters.
But Pak said: “It does not make any sense militarily that a 130-tonne submersible carrying a heavy 1.7-tonne torpedo travelled through the open sea into the South, sank the ship and returned home.”He also rebutted Seoul's allegation that salvaged fragments of the torpedo matched design specifications that appeared on brochures the North allegedly sent to an unidentified potential buyer of North Korean torpedoes.
“Who in the the world would hand over torpedo designs while selling torpedoes?” he said.
Senior Colonel Ri Son Gwon dismissed as a “fabrication” a serial number hand-written on a torpedo fragment reading “1 bun” or number one.
South Korea said the serial number handwritten in Korean was strong evidence of Pyongyang's involvement in the sinking. “When we put serial numbers on weapons, we engrave them with machines,” Ri said. “We use 'bun' only for football or basketball players,” he said.
Ri said the blame for the incident rested with the “commander-in-chief of the puppet armed forces and military bosses.”Pak said the Seoul-led multinational investigation team was not in a position to conduct an objective probe, attacking Seoul for rejecting Pyongyang's demand that it will dispatch its own investigation team.