Created: 9/24/1996

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NORTH KOREA: Demanding Return ofSubmarine and Crew

The Ministry of People's Armed Forces yesterday claimed the "small training submarine" that ran aground off South Korea's cast coast last Tuesday had engine trouble after leaving port oneptember and drifted toward Kangnung. Pyongyang said the crew had no choice but to abandon ship for the "enemy side'sven though it "might cause an armed conflict."

The single captured crewman saidmeter Sango submarine encountered mechanical problems after it arrived in tbe Kangnung

P'yongyang's statement probably is driven by its lack of knowledge of what documents and equipment the crew faded to destroy and what information the captured crewman has provided, tt will want to be positioned to discount as fabricated any evidence the South eventually


A South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman said the statement was "nonsense" and part of Pyongyang's "habitually deceitful policy" to defuse criticism. Lawmakers yesterdayesolution demanding tighter security and international cooperation to deter North Korean aggression.|

Meanwhile. South Korean forces are closing in on as many as five agents still at large, according to press reports. The death toll includesorth Korean crewmen and agents, three South Korean soldiers, and one civilian rnistaken for an infiltrator.


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