SEOUL, 8th July, 2016 (WAM)–South Korea and the United States have decided to deploy a US anti-missile system in the South to better cope with North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile threats, the South Korean Defence Ministry announced Friday.
The decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system (THAAD) was reached through talks launched between the two sides earlier this year on the feasibility of the system, Deputy Defense Minister for Defense Policy Ryu Je Seung said, reading a prepared statement.
The announcement is certain to draw a strong backlash from China and Russia as the two countries have opposed introduction of the system in South Korea on the grounds it would constitute a direct threat to their strategic security.(PNA/Kyodo).
Reacting immediately to the move, China’s foreign ministry on Friday said it strongly opposes the decision by South Korea and the United States to deploy an advanced antiballistic missile system on South Korean soil.
China expressed “strong discontent and firm opposition” against the two countries’ agreement to place the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea.
“The THAAD system does not help achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and also hurts peace and stability in the region,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Beijing warned that if the system is deployed, it will “seriously” impair China and other countries’ strategic interests and the security balance in Northeast Asia.
China’s reaction came as Seoul and Washington announced the deployment of the advanced missile defense system here in a bid to counter North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threats. The allies have been engaged in talks for the past five month.
China and Russia have explicitly expressed opposition against the THAAD deployment in South Korea on concerns that the move could hurt their strategic security interests.
Beijing claims that the system can be used against it on concerns that the powerful X-band radar that comes with THAAD could spy on China’s military.
Washington said that THAAD is a purely defencive system aimed only at North Korea’s evolving threats.
On Friday, Seoul said it had already notified China and Russia of its decision to deploy the THAAD missiles a day earlier.
A diplomatic source said that China’s foreign ministry is known to have called in South Korean Ambassador to China Kim Jang-soo and the U.S. top envoy to Beijing Max Baucus to lodge a protest against the decision.
The South Korean Embassy in China declined to confirm if its top envoy was summoned. “South Korea and China are closely communicating with each other over the THAAD issue,” it said. “It is hard to elaborate on.”