North offers to provide samples of its torpedoes

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North offers to provide samples of its torpedoes

North Korea yesterday offered to hand over metal samples of its torpedoes to refute the results of a multinational investigation that found the communist state was responsible for the March sinking of a South Korean warship.

The Seoul-led investigation determined in May that a North Korean submarine fired an aluminum-made torpedo to sink the Cheonan warship near the tense Yellow Sea border, killing 46 sailors.

In a lengthy denial carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, the National Defense Commission (NDC), the North’s highest seat of power, claimed its torpedoes are made of “steel alloy material.”

“The [North] is still willing to directly hand the steel alloy sample of our Juche-based torpedo to the U.S. imperialists and the group of traitors,” it said. Juche means self-reliance in Korean.

“We do not hide the fact that [the North] possesses torpedoes with such tremendous striking power that the world can hardly imagine.

“They are Juche-based torpedoes made of steel alloy material manufactured by workers of the [North], not aluminum alloy made in other countries.”

The NDC, led by leader Kim Jong-il, also claimed that the Korean writing, “1-ho,” or No. 1, written on a torpedo part found by South Korean investigators, had no relation to its Navy.

“Workers of the munitions industry of the [North] do not use pens when writing any necessary figures in the process of manufacturing any accessory and equipment, but carve them,” it said.

“No. 1 is not an ordinary writing style used [in North Korea].”

Since May, North Korea has demanded that the South allow a team of NDC investigators to conduct an on-site probe.

Denouncing the South for refusing its demand, the North said it will issue two more statements to back up its denial.

The Cheonan sinking has been the major thorn in inter-Korean relations this year. The South refuses to restore exchange efforts with the North unless Pyongyang apologizes for the sinking.

Earlier Tuesday, South Korean Unification Vice Minister Um Jong-sik said at a forum that Seoul is ready to help the North revive its moribund economy if the communist neighbor goes ahead with steps that include the admission of guilt over the sinking and clear efforts toward denuclearization.

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