June 17, 2010 11:35
North Korea's ambassador to the UN, Sin Son-ho, flatly denied his country had any hand in the sinking of the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan in March. "The investigation result is a complete fabrication from A to Z," he told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday at the UN auditorium.
It was North Korea's first public press conference following the sinking of the Cheonan. Sin read from a 20-page script for about 27 minutes. He said that when the international investigation team announced its findings of the Cheonan on May 20, the South was beginning campaigning for regional elections, and the U.S. was planning to hold strategic talks with China, so the Cheonan sinking was "fabricated" by the two governments for political purposes.
He also charged that the U.S. "mostly benefited from the incident" as it was able to extend its imperiled hold on a military base in Okinawa and cause former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to resign over his failure to oust U.S. forces.
Sin drew attention to the "number 1" marking handwritten on the salvaged propulsion shaft of a torpedo found near the site of the sinking. He called it "suspicious" that the inscription survived extremely high temperatures during the blast.
When asked why the torpedo recovered from the scene perfectly matched a North Korean torpedo exported to other countries, Sin became evasive. "The scene of the incident is inside a disputed area following the ceasefire agreement between [North Korea] and the U.S., while South Korea and the U.S. were conducting military exercises there when the incident happened," he said. "Everything will be clear when our investigators probe the scene."
A Japanese journalist said most UN Security Council members supported the evidence South Korea presented the day before, but Sin said, "If South Korea's failed attempt to put a satellite into space is blamed on a North Korean torpedo, would you believe it?" Sin said he has yet to read a letter sent to the UN Security Council by a South Korean civic group raising suspicions about the South Korean evidence, but added that it showed how skeptical even South Koreans are about the accusation.
The ambassador added a familiar threatening note. "If the Security Council releases any documents against us, condemning or pressuring us... then myself as diplomat, I can do nothing," he said. "The follow-up measures will be carried out by our military forces."
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