Seoul: South Korea's military believes that
a North Korean submarine launched a torpedo attack that sank a
South Korean warship last month near their disputed sea
border, Yonhap news agency said on Thursday.
The assessment was reported to the office of President
Lee Myung-Bak and the defence ministry immediately after the
ship sank last month, an unnamed senior military source told
"It's our military intelligence's assessment that North
Korean submarines attacked the ship with a heavy torpedo," the
source said, adding that the subs were armed with torpedoes
with 200-kilogram (440-pound) warheads.
"Since February last year, North Korea has strengthened
training that showed the possibility of it launching a
guerrilla warfare-style provocation, rather than a skirmish."
The South's military intelligence command had also
alerted the navy ahead of the March 26 sinking of the Cheonan
that North Korea was preparing an attack, Yonhap said.
The South's defence ministry refused to comment on the
Seoul has so far refrained from directly accusing
Pyongyang and said only that an "external explosion" was the
most likely cause of the disaster which cost the lives of 46
Pyongyang has denied it was responsible.
South Korean Defence Minister Kim Tae-Young has already
raised the possibility that a mine or torpedo may have sunk
the ship, following deadly naval clashes in 1999 and 2002 and
a November firefight.
The November incident left a North Korean patrol boat in
flames and local media reports said one North Korean sailor
was killed and three wounded.
The North has vowed "merciless" military action to
protect what it sees as its Yellow Sea border.
South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper meanwhile quoted
defectors as saying that North Korea had formed suicide attack
squads known as "human torpedoes" in its navy.
It said the North's navy operates a brigade of suicide
attack squads, which have many mini-submarines capable of
carrying torpedoes or floating mines.
First Published: Thursday, April 22, 2010, 19:18