BY JAMES PEARSON
(Reuters) – North Korea on Monday accused U.S. and South Korean authorities of fabricating the results of a probe that concluded Pyongyang sent small surveillance drones, or unmanned aircraft, to spy on key South Korean installations in March.
A spokesman for the North’s military attacked the United States for what it said was a blindly backed confrontational conspiracy devised by the government of South Korean President Park Geun-hye, whom it called a “political prostitute”.
“If Washington pays heed only to what its stooges trumpet, it is bound to be accused of being a senile grandfather trying to stop a child from crying,” the unnamed spokesman said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.
In a rare direct attack on the North Korean regime, South Korean Ministry of Defense spokesman Kim Min-seok said the North’s statement was “deeply regrettable” and that Pyongyang regularly lies so deserves to be discredited.
“North Korea isn’t a real country is it? It doesn’t have human rights or freedom. It exists solely to prop up a single person,” Kim said at a briefing in Seoul.
“It is an unreal country that constantly lies and uses historically backward-looking rhetoric. That’s why it should cease to exist,” Kim said, using uncharacteristically aggressive language.
North and South Korea are technically still at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
The North Korean statement was the latest in a recent series of written attacks against the South Korean president, whom it has previously likened to a “comfort woman”.
In April, North Korea described U.S. President Barack Obama as Park’s “pimp”, and in an article this month called the U.S. president a “wicked black monkey”.
South Korean and U.S. officials jointly examined three drones that were recovered in three different locations near the Korean border over a two-week period starting in late March.
The second was discovered soon after a three-hour artillery barrage between North andSouth Korea in waters near a disputed maritime border.
In April, North Korea proposed a joint probe into the crashed drones with the South, but Seoul rejected the proposal.
North Korea said in the statement the joint investigation into the origin of the drones was a “charade”, designed to divert public criticism of the South Korean government’s handling of the Sewol ferry tragedy.
Park’s government has faced continued criticism for its handling of the disaster from the families of the ferry victims, many of whom believe a swifter initial response could have saved many more lives.
Reclusive North Korea renewed a threat on Saturday to conduct a nuclear test amid heightened concern that it may set off an atomic device for the fourth time on the path to building a nuclear arsenal.
North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said the country was justified in using all available means at its disposal to counter aggressive challenges by the United States and South Korea aimed at stifling its sovereignty.
(Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Nick Macfie)