x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

N Korea denies sinking warship

North Korea's National Defence Commission, chaired by Kim Jong-Il, has held a rare press conference and denied Pyongyang sank a South Korean warship.

North Korea has flatly rejected evidence showing it torpedoed a South Korean warship with the loss of 46 lives, saying it does not even own a midget submarine allegedly used for the March attack. The North's powerful National Defence Commission (NDC), chaired by the leader Kim Jong-Il, has held a rare press conference and denied Pyongyang's involvement, according to official North Korean media. Major General Pak Rim Su, the director of the policy department of the NDC, said the North does not have a 130-tonne "Yeono (salmon)-class" submarine, which the South says torpedoed its 1,200-tonne corvette, the Cheonan, in the Yellow Sea.

"We don't have anything like a 130-tonne Yeono-class submersible," Maj Gen 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 Yeono class midget submarine had intruded into South Korean waters via international waters.

But Maj Gen 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." But South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted South Korean officials as saying the North's submarine fleet includes about 10 Yeono class submarines. *AFP