US missile defense heading to SKorea despite opposition

Seoul and Washington ignore Chinese disapproval by agreeing to deploy controversial THAAD system in South Korea

US missile defense heading to SKorea despite opposition

World Bulletin / News Desk

South Korea and the United States announced Friday that they will deploy a contentious missile defense system known as THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) on Korean soil "as soon as possible", despite firm opposition from China and Russia.

Seoul and Washington officially kicked off discussions concerning the deployment after North Korea launched a long-range rocket in February, but media rumors have been swirling a lot longer.

Yoo Jeh-seung, a senior official from South Korea's defense ministry, told local reporters the decision was part of efforts “to guarantee the security of (South) Korea and our people from North Korea's nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile threats".

Yonhap news agency quoted the deputy minister for policy as insisting that THAAD will not be aimed at countries apart from the North -- even though China and Russia view the system’s powerful radar as a threat.

Some South Korean opposition lawmakers have also questioned the efficacy of such a system considering the proximity of the North.

Whether or not THAAD is able to defend South Korea from an attack just north of the inter-Korean border, the U.S. welcomed the announcement as a signal of the Seoul-Washington alliance’s strength.

“Today's decision is a critical one… as we work together to defend our alliance's military forces and people of South Korea from growing North Korean ballistic missile threats,” United States Forces Korea Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Thomas Vandal added at Friday’s briefing.

The allies hope to deploy THAAD by the end of next year, bolstering an American presence in the South that already includes nearly 30,000 military personnel -- a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.

China quickly condemned the move, warning via a foreign ministry statement that “the THAAD system does not help achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and also hurts peace and stability in the region.”

North Korea has repeatedly threatened to attack both its southern neighbor and the U.S., while regularly testing ballistic missiles and claiming to have tested a hydrogen bomb earlier this year.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 08 Temmuz 2016, 12:05