China urges ROK, US to stop THAAD deployment

Xinhua
ROK President Moon Jae-in ordered his aides to consult with US counterparts about the deployment of four more launchers of THAAD after DPRK's test-launch of a ballistic missile.
Xinhua

China on Saturday strongly urged the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States to respect China's concerns and stop their deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang made the remarks in response to reports that ROK President Moon Jae-in on Saturday ordered his aides to consult with US counterparts about the deployment of four more mobile launchers of the THAAD after the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) test-launch of a ballistic missile.

"The Chinese side is deeply concerned about the situation," Geng said, noting that China's position on THAAD is clear and consistent.

The deployment of the missile system by the United States and the ROK will not address the security concerns of the ROK nor contribute to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Geng said.

The deployment will severely damage the regional strategic balance and harm the security interests of countries in the region, including China, Geng said.

The DPRK test-fired an unidentified missile, which the country described as an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) called Hwasong-14, at 11:41pm (1441 GMT) Friday from Jagang province, the central northernmost part of the DPRK, according to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

The ballistic missile of an intercontinental range flew about 1,000km and was lofted as high as around 3,700km. It was an advanced Hwasong-14, which traveled 933km at a maximum altitude of 2,802km at the July 4 launch.

President Moon convened the national security council (NSC) meeting at the presidential Blue House right after the DPRK's missile launch was reported to him.

Attending the meeting were ministers of defense, foreign affairs and unification as well as presidential chief of staff, top presidential security advisor and intelligence agency chief.

During the meeting, Moon instructed his aides to consult with the U.S. side on strengthening South Korea-U.S. defense capability and reliable expanded deterrence capability, including the early installation of the remaining THAAD launchers, senior presidential press secretary Yoon Young-chan said.

On April 26, two mobile launchers and other elements of the U.S. missile shield were transported in the middle of night to the former golf course in Seongju county, North Gyeongsang province.

One THAAD battery, which Seoul and Washington decided in July last year to deploy in southeast South Korea, is composed of six mobile launchers, 48 interceptors, the AN/TPY-2 radar and the fire and control unit.

Four THAAD mobile launchers were reportedly delivered to a U.S. military base near the THAAD site.

Chung Eui-yong, the top security adviser to President Moon, held a telephone conversation with his US counterpart H.R. McMaster to discuss the early deployment of THAAD launchers and the mobilization of US strategic military assets to South Korea.

A senior presidential official, who declined to be identified, told reporters that additional THAAD launchers would be "temporarily" deployed, saying the "general" environmental impact assessment would be conducted as planned.

The defense ministry announced its official plan Friday to conduct the general green audit on the THAAD site that was expected to take at least 12 months.

The ministry forecast the period could be shortened as a small-size green audit was already completed.

The presidential official said the final decision on whether to deploy the U.S. missile defense system in South Korea would be decided upon around the time when the green audit is completed.

South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo held an emergency press conference, saying the governments of South Korea and the United States will mobilize strategic military assets to sternly respond to the DPRK provocation of missile launch.

Song said the South Korean military will rapidly consult with the U.S. side to temporarily deploy additional THAAD launchers for the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), vowing to build South Korea's own defense capability against the DPRK's nuclear and missile threats at an earliest possible date.

The minister noted that the DPRK's ballistic missile launch was in a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions and posed threat to security on the Korean Peninsula and peace in the world.

Meanwhile, the South Korean president ordered a show of force through the joint U.S.-South Korea missile-firing drills in response to Pyongyang's missile-launch provocation.

Earlier in the morning, the combined forces of South Korea and the United States staged the live-fire missile exercise along the east coast, mobilizing the South Korean military's Hyunmoo-II ballistic missiles and eight U.S. Army's ATACMS surface-to-surface missiles.


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