US Denies Sending Commandos to Spy on North Korea

Posted May 29th, 2012 at 12:10 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. military officials are rejecting a report suggesting that U.S. military commandos have been parachuting into North Korea to gather intelligence on Pyongyang's underground military installations.

The Diplomat, a Tokyo-based political journal, on Monday carried a report alleging that a senior U.S. special operations commander revealed the supposed commando program at a conference in Florida last week.

But Colonel Jonathan Withington, a spokesperson for the United States Forces Korea, dismissed the story when contacted by VOA on Tuesday. He said the report took “great liberal license” with the comments made by Army Brig. Gen. Neil Tolley, saying some of the quotes were “made up and attributed to him.”

The Diplomat quoted Tolley as saying that both U.S. and South Korean commandos were taking part in the reconnaissance mission, which it said was aimed at uncovering information on “thousands of tunnels” built by Pyongyang since the Korean war.

Col. Withington said it is well-known that North Korea uses tunnels to hide its sensitive military operations. But he said “at no time” have U.S. or South Korean forces parachuted into North Korea to conduct special reconnaissance.

The author of the report in The Diplomat, David Axe, rejected suggestions he fabricated the quotes attributed to the general. He said if the general was speaking hypothetically, “he did not say so” and that “he spoke in the present tense” and “at length.”