United States considers deploying THAAD missile defense battery in South Korea

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Defence & Security News - United States

 
 
Wednesday, October 1, 2014 01:58 PM
 
United States considers deploying THAAD missile defense battery in South Korea
The United States is considering sending a THAAD missile defense battery to South Korea to cope with threats from North Korea, a top American defense official confirmed Tuesday, September 30. Talks are underway between the United States and South Korea on the possible deployment of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system, according to Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, the first senior American official to publicly acknowledge the move.
     
The United States is considering sending a THAAD missile defense battery to South Korea to cope with threats from North Korea, a top American defense official confirmed Tuesday, September 30. Talks are underway between the United States and South Korea on the possible deployment of a THAAD missile system, according to Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, the first senior American official to publicly acknowledge the move.
Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense missile system
     
"As you said, we are considering sending a THAAD to South Korea," Work said in response to a question from Yonhap News Agency. He spoke at a forum organized by the Council on Foreign Relations on U.S policy in the Asia-Pacific region.

"We are considering very carefully whether or not to put a THAAD in South Korea. We're doing site surveys. We're working with the government of South Korea now to determine if that is the right thing to do," he said.

Work said the U.S. plans to have a total of eight THAAD batteries "when all is said and done."

"These batteries are strategic assets," he said. "Moving them is a very, very important national-level decision. So moving one to Guam in response to North Korean provocations was made and that battery is there."

Work emphasized that it is very difficult to move a THAAD battery because of the work involved in setting up the complicated system in a new place. But once moved, such systems "become an important part of the regional defense," he said.

The THAAD deployment plan is a sensitive issue because it is seen as U.S. pressure on Seoul to buy a new THAAD system. It could also inflame tensions with China and Russia as they see the U.S. move as a threat to their interests.

Critics in South Korea have also claimed the planned deployment is part of a broader U.S. attempt to get the Asian ally to join its missile defense system. Seoul has said it won't join the U.S. system, but will instead develop its own.

"We've emphasized to both China and to Russia these are not strategic anti-ballistic missiles," Work said. "They are essentially designed to address regional threats against both our allies, against U.S. territory. So we continue to work with the Russians and the Chinese to allay any concerns they have, but they both have indicated concerns."

The THAAD is a key element of the Ballistic Missile Defense System designed to defend U.S. troops, alleid forces, population centers and critical infrastructures. THAAD operates in a unique battle space intercepting both endo- and exo-atmospheric short-to-intermediate range ballistic missiles.

 

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