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Iran Press TV

US officials report 'apparent deployment' of missiles by China

Iran Press TV

Wed Feb 17, 2016 1:55AM

There has been an "apparent deployment' of China's surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island in the South China Sea, US defense officials say.

The deployment was initially reported by Fox News, citing exclusively obtained satellite imagery confirmed by US officials.

"The imagery from ImageSat International (ISI) shows two batteries of eight surface-to-air missile launchers as well as a radar system on Woody Island, part of the Paracel Island chain in the South China Sea," Fox News said in its report.

According to the images, the missiles arrived over the past week because a beach on the island was empty on February 3, but it was deployed with the missiles by February 14.

The officials said the imagery appears to show the HQ-9 air defense system with a range of 125 miles.

The development came at a time when US President Barack Obama called for 'tangible steps' to reduce tensions in the South China Sea.

'We discussed the need for tangible steps in the South China Sea to lower tensions including a halt to further reclamation, new construction and militarization of disputed areas,' Obama said Tuesday after a two-day summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders in California. 'When ASEAN speaks with a clear and unified voice, it can help advance security, opportunity and human dignity."

In a joint statement, Obama and the 10 ASEAN leaders demanded the 'peaceful resolution' of a myriad of competing territorial claims over islands, atolls and reefs.

'Freedom of navigation must be upheld, and lawful commerce should not be impeded,' Obama said. 'The United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, and we will support the right of all countries to do the same.'

The US has long accused Beijing of using territorial claims to gradually assert control in the South China Sea.

Beijing, however, rejects the allegations and accuses Washington of meddling in the regional issues and deliberately stirring up tensions in the South China Sea.

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