“ Korean war clouds ”

SEOUL – South Korea’s president said yesterday his country was caught in a “perfect military ambush” when a North Korean torpedo sank a naval warship, but called for a cautious response to the disaster that left 46 sailors dead.President Lee Myung-bak made the comments at an emergency national security meeting convened one day after an official report concluded that North Korea was responsible for the deadly sinking of the South Korean patrol ship Cheonan. North Korea has denied involvement and vowed “all-out war” in case of any moves to retaliate over the sinking.An international team of civilian and military investigators declared on Thursday that a North Korean submarine fired  a homing torpedo on March 26, ripping the  1 200-ton ship in two. Fifty-eight sailors were rescued, but 46 died – South Korea’s worst military disaster since the Korean War.“We were caught in a perfect military ambush by North Korea while our people were resting in the late hours,” Lee said  at the start of the meeting, according  to a statement by his office.Lee called the sinking a “military provocation” and said it violated the United Nations (UN) Charter as well as the truce that ended the fighting in the 1950-53  Korean War.“Because this is a serious and important issue, I believe there must not be a single mistake in all of our responsive measures, and that we must be highly prudent,” he said.Discussion at the meeting focused on international cooperation, military readiness, inter-Korean relations and preparedness against unconventional threats from  North Korea, including cyberterrorism, spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye said in  the statement.Lee had vowed on Thursday to take “resolute countermeasures” against the North over the sinking. He was expected to give an address to the nation on Monday or Tuesday.Military retaliation, however, is seen as too dangerous and not a serious option given the vulnerability of South Korea’s capital, Seoul, and its ten million residents to North Korean artillery located just across the border.Separately yesterday, North Korea spoke  of war for a second straight day, while  United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was on her way to Asia,  with tensions on the Korean peninsula expected to dominate her agenda.Pyongyang, which has denied any role in the sinking, said “a war may break out right now” and that it “will regard the present situation as the phase of a war and decisively handle all matters arising in inter-Korean relations to cope with it”. (AP)