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Tension rises over South Korean ship sinking as North Korea denies responsibility

North Korea said South Korean claims of Pyongyang's responsibility for a deadly torpedo attack in 2010 is "fictitious."

By Elizabeth Shim
Tension rises over South Korean ship sinking as North Korea denies responsibility
In this 2010 photo, a crane lifts the wrecked South Korean naval ship Cheonan near the coast of South Korea. North Korea has requested economic sanctions be lifted because it claims it is not responsible for the ship's sinking. Photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, March 24 (UPI) -- North Korea's refusal to apologize for the sinking of a South Korean warship in 2010 drew a stern response from the South Korean government and is raising tensions between Seoul and Pyongyang.

Yonhap reported Tuesday that North Korea's National Defense Committee denied any connection to the sinking of the South Korean ship Cheonan, which killed 46 South Korean seamen. Pyongyang also called for an end to South Korea's May 24 sanctions, which bans all trade and investment – with the exception of activities in the joint industrial complex of Kaesong, North Korea.

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In May 2010, a South Korea-led team of international experts concluded a North Korean torpedo was responsible for the sinking of the Cheonan.

The BBC reported that North Korea's state-controlled news agency KCNA reproached the South Korean claims, and that it described the theory as "fictitious."

South Korea's unification ministry was quick to criticize the North Korean response, calling it a distortion of the truth.

In a separate statement, South Korea's defense ministry confirmed that the investigations concluded the Cheonan sinking was caused by a torpedo launched from a North Korean submarine and the economic sanctions that followed were a justifiable response to North Korea's deadly attack.

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The BBC reported North Korea offered to conduct an independent investigation into the Cheonan sinking in 2010, but Seoul turned down the offer.

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