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N Korea deploys torpedo-carrying midget submarines: Report

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SEOUL (AFP): North Korea has developed a new type of midget submarine fitted with torpedo launch tubes, allowing it to attack South Korea warships more easily, a report said Tuesday.

Satellite images of a naval base in the North's southwestern city of Nampo, published by JoongAng Ilbo newspaper, show what appears to be a 17-metre-long submarine with a tube-like structure attached to its top.

"We have concluded that it is a torpedo launch tube," the paper quoted an unidentified Seoul intelligence source as saying.

The paper said the new Daedong-B midget submarine moves faster than larger submarines and is harder for military radar to detect.

The South accused the North of sending a 29-metre Yono-class submarine to torpedo the Cheonan warship in March which sank with the loss of 46 lives. The North denies the charge.

The newspaper said the North has long used midget submarines to infiltrate spies into the South. It said Seoul military officials now suspect Pyongyang has developed a more powerful midget sub to carry torpedoes and other weapons.

South Korea's defence ministry and intelligence agency declined to comment.

Cross-border tensions have been high since the Cheonan incident, and rose further after the North's deadly artillery attack on a South Korean border island on November 23.


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