All Quiet on the Northern Front, Defense Minister Says

      May 28, 2010 10:11

      No special movements by the North Korean military have been detected, Defense Minister Kim Tae-young told journalists Thursday.

      Since the findings of an international inquiry into the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan were announced North Korea has repeatedly talked of war, "but as far as North Korean troop movements are concerned there is nothing serious to report," Kim said.

      Meanwhile, Kim said the government has sent all the findings to China, which has repeatedly called for calm and is refusing to condemn North Korea over the sinking. "As a big country, China seems careful in make a judgment, but we expect it to make its position clear sooner or later," he said.

      The minister also answered lingering questions over the investigation results in the sinking of the Cheonan.

      He commented on the government's conflicting statements about the mysterious disappearance of two North Korean submarines from the radar around the day the Cheonan sank. The government first said there was no connection with the Cheonan sinking, but in a later statement it said those were the two subs that sank it. Asked why, Kim said, "In the initial stage, we made a judgment based only on the intelligence data we had, but we later obtained additional information from the international investigation team."

      One journalist said the propulsion shaft of a torpedo which investigators said sank the Cheonan looked too corroded to have been in the water for only two months. Kim said experts made their conclusion based on a "primary visual examination" but added, "We're examining it closely."

      "Once anything that has been buried in seawater is exposed to air, it corrodes rapidly," he said. "When it was first pulled up, the surface of the propulsion shaft was clean. But it corroded rapidly soon afterwards because we left it intact as evidence. The surface will become clean again if it is wiped."

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