North Korea accuses South Korea of framing it in ship sinking
North Korea accused South Korea today of spreading rumors that the communist North was to blame for the explosion that sank a South Korean warship near the tense sea border.world Updated: Apr 17, 2010 13:29 IST
North Korea accused South Korea on Saturday of spreading rumors that the communist North was to blame for the explosion that sank a South Korean warship near the tense sea border.
North Korea has denied involvement in the blast that broke the 1,200-tonne Cheonan into two pieces on March 26 this year during a routine patrol near the sea border, killing at least 38.
South Korean officials have not openly blamed the North for one of its worst naval disasters, but an investigator said on Friday the explosion was most likely external.
Officials have not ruled out a North Korean floating mine or torpedo in the disputed waters where three past inter-Korean naval battles have been fought. The North's official Korean Central News Agency on Saturday carried a commentary by an unidentified North Korean military commentator saying Seoul is spreading rumors.
"The military warmongers are getting more undisguised in their moves to link the accident with the North, though it was caused by their fault," said the commentator.
The commentator accused the South of seeking to blame North Korea in order to strengthen the ruling party's position in upcoming local elections and shore up international sanctions against the North.
The UN Security Council imposed new sanctions on North Korea following its second nuclear test last year.
The divided peninsula remains technically at war, since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.
The state media commentary marked the first official North Korean response to the sinking.
Earlier, South Korean media had reported that North Korean officials had privately assured Chinese officials that the North's military had no part in the disaster.
North Korea's accusation came a day after chief South Korean investigator Yoon Duk-yong told reporters after examining the ship that there was a "high possibility of an external explosion" that sunk the ship.
Fifty-eight of the ship's crew were rescued while the ship was sinking and 38 bodies have been found, most of them on Thursday, April 15 when the stern was raised from the water.
Eight crew members are still unaccounted for.