South Korea, U.S. to deploy THAAD missile defense system, drawing China protest

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missile launchingA Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a successful intercept test. REUTERS/U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency

South Korea and the United States said on Friday they would deploy an advanced missile defense system in South Korea to counter a threat from Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK, drawing a sharp and swift protest from neighboring China.

US looks to deploy advanced missile defense system in ROK

The U.S.’s THAAD missile defense system is causing quite a stir among Chinese officials. How does it work and how is it different from other U.S. systems already deployed on the Korean peninsula. CCTV America’s Jim Spellman reports.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, anti-missile system will be used only as protection against DPRK’s growing nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, the South’s Defense Ministry and the U.S. Defense Department said in a joint statement.

“This is an important decision,” General Vincent Brooks, commander of U.S. forces in South Korea, said in a statement. “DPRK’s continued development of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction require the alliance to take this prudent, protective measure to bolster our missile defense.”

Beijing said on Friday it lodged complaints with the U.S. and South Korean ambassadors over the THAAD decision.

China said the system would destabilize the security balance in the region without achieving anything to end the DPRK’s nuclear program. China is DPRK’s main ally, but opposes its pursuit of nuclear weapons and backed the latest United Nations sanctions against Pyongyang in March.

“China strongly urges the United States and South Korea to stop the deployment process of the THAAD anti-missile system, not take any steps to complicate the regional situation and do nothing to harm China’s strategic security interests,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Selection of a site for the system could come “within weeks,” and the allies were working to have it operational by the end of 2017, a South Korean Defense Ministry official said.

The THAAD will be deployed to U.S. Forces in Korea “to protect alliance military forces from North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile threats,” the joint statement said. The United States maintains 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war.

“When the THAAD system is deployed to the Korean Peninsula, it will be focused solely on North Korean nuclear and missile threats – and would not be directed towards any third-party nations,” the statement said.

Story from Reuters.