Posted April. 03, 2010 07:50,
Defense Minister Kim Tae-young yesterday said North Korean submarines did show movement around the time of the sinking of the naval patrol ship Cheonan in the Yellow Sea.
Speculation is rising over why the presidential office and the Defense Ministry had flatly denied this despite repeated media calls for clarification.
The presidential offices national security team has denied that North Korean submarines showed movement around the time of the Cheonan disaster. A team member told The Dong-A Ilbo Wednesday, If there was such an incident, Id call it a leak of confidential information, but this is not a leak. I bet my dignity on this.
Another aide said, If someone said so, he or she lacks expertise, adding, To me, it is nonsense.
When asked again to confirm the denial after Kims comment yesterday, the aide who bet his dignity said, I meant that (movement by North Korean submarines) had nothing to do with the Cheonan. Incidentally, the move was not filmed by satellites at the time of the sinking.
I only said the move was not discovered. I didnt deny that North Korean submarines showed movement in other locations as well.
Analysts say internal and external pressure on the presidential office to cover up the submarines movement was politically motivated for the sake of inter-Korean relations. But critics say the prevailing practice of confidentiality at the national security group apparently affected the denial.
Why the government denied something that was unveiled several days later is also raising eyebrows. President Lee Myung-bak repeatedly instructed his staff that the government not decisively and prematurely present the cause of the accident, and that the truth be given to the public to preempt unnecessary suspicion from brewing.