msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 3/29/2010 8:38:35 AM ET 2010-03-29T12:38:35

South Korea's defense minister told parliament Monday that it was possible a North Korean sea mine dating from the Korean War caused the explosion that sank a South Korean warship.

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"It is possible that a North Korean sea mine could have drifted into our area," Defense Minister Kim Tae-young was quoted as saying by the Yonhap news agency.

Some 4,000 North Korean sea mines have yet to be recovered from the sea border region after the 1950-53 Korean War.

Also on Monday, North Korea warned the U.S. and South Korea of "unpredictable incidents" unless the allies stop allowing journalists to tour inside a heavily armed border buffer on a peninsula area between the two nations.

Monday's warning came two days after a South Korean military ship sank due to an unexplained explosion. The ship was near the disputed sea border with North Korea, though South Korean and U.S. officials say they have seen nothing that suggests any North Korean involvement.

'Unpredictable incidents'
The statement by the North's military accused South Korea of staging anti-North Korea "psychological warfare" in the demilitarized zone and allowing journalists to visit there.

The statement said those actions violate the armistice that ended hostilities in the 1950-53 conflict and that the U.S., a truce signatory, is also responsible.

"If the U.S. and the South Korean authorities persist in their wrong acts to misuse the DMZ for the inter-Korean confrontation despite our warnings, these will entail unpredictable incidents including the loss of human lives in this area for which the U.S. side will be wholly to blame," the statement said.

The statement was issued in the name of an unidentified spokesman for the Korean People's Army in Panmunjom in the DMZ.

Possible instability
The North routinely issues warnings and threatens to attack South Korea and the U.S. The military Friday threatened "unprecedented nuclear strikes" in anger over a report Seoul and Washington plan to prepare for possible instability in the totalitarian country.

Separately, North Korea's foreign ministry issued a statement Monday blasting the United Nations for what it said was criticism by the global body of the country's human rights record.

North Korea, ruled by Kim Jong Il, is routinely described in U.N. and other reports as one of the world's most repressive regimes. It denies human rights violations exist in the country.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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