South Korea plays down war threat as ship salvaged
South Korea yesterday raised the front half of a warship that exploded and sank a month ago near a contested sea border with North Korea, finding clues which support growing suspicions that Pyongyang attacked the vessel.
The 1,200-tonne corvette Cheonan sank in what military officials said was likely a torpedo attack.
Forty-six South Korean sailors were killed in what could be one of the deadliest strikes by Pyongyang on its rival since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.
The North has denied any involvement. South Korea's president on Friday gave the clearest signal yet that Seoul had no plan to launch a revenge attack, calming investors worried that armed conflict would damage the South's rapidly recovering economy.
"The probably catastrophic costs of a war on the peninsula will greatly constrain the US and South Korean options for a military response, which thus remains an unlikely trigger for major military conflict," the global strategy group Control Risks said last week.
A survey team that included experts from South Korea, the US and Australia said after the rear of the ship was raised the Cheonan had been destroyed by an external explosion.
That stoked suspicions of a torpedo attack in waters where the rival Koreas have had two deadly naval fights in the past decade.
Seoul has said it would issue its final verdict on what caused the ship to sink after it had retrieved the front section but has not given a date for releasing its findings.
The two Koreas, technically still at war, have more than one million troops near their borders. The US has about 28,000 troops in the South to support its military.
This weekend, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that North Korea should not take provocative actions following the allegations and should resume talks on ending its nuclear programmes.