Russian team wraps up probe

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Russian team wraps up probe

The team conducting Russia’s probe of the Cheonan disaster have concluded that the ship was sunk by an external explosion, according to officials from the South Korean joint investigation team.

The three Russian experts returned home yesterday after an eight-day probe into the incident, which South Korea has concluded was caused by a North Korean torpedo attack.

“The Russian team admitted the Cheonan sank due to an external underwater blast at its left side,” said the official, who asked not to be named. “But while they admitted that there was no possibility that the external blast was caused by anything other than a torpedo, the Russians never said that a torpedo sunk the ship.”

The official also said he believed the Russian submarine and explosion experts “had detailed knowledge about the incident” even before they arrived in Seoul.

The Russian experts inspected the ship, watched computer simulations that showed how a torpedo destroyed it, and Seoul officials also offered them the computer file that detailed how the simulation was created.

The South Korean team also offered the Russians detailed records of the 2000 suicide bombing of the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole in the waters off of Yemen. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for that bombing.

During their investigation, the Russians also asked to see the combat information center of a South Korean warship similar to the Cheonan. The military refused that request because of security protocols, but offered a tour of the captain’s cabin.

“The Russian team members were very seasoned experts,” the source said. “Russia may have its own stance on North Korea...but the officials at least understood the results of our investigation.”


By Kim Min-seok [hawon@joongang.co.kr]

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