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Iran Press TV

Seoul, Washington to start talks on US missile deployment

Iran Press TV

Sun Feb 7, 2016 9:52AM

South Korean and US military officials are set to begin formal negotiations on the possible deployment of an American missile system to the Korean Peninsula to deal with what they call threats from the North.

The announcement came on Sunday hours after Pyongyang said it successfully launched a long-range rocket reportedly aimed at placing an earth observation satellite into orbit. However, Washington and Seoul denounced the move as a cover for an intercontinental ballistic missile test.

"It has been decided to formally start talks on the possibility of deploying the THAAD system to South Korea as part of steps to bolster the missile defense of the Korea-US alliance," said Yoo Jeh-seung, the South Korean deputy defense minister for policy, in a joint briefing with US Lieutenant General Thomas Vandal.

THAAD is the acronym for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, a US army anti-ballistic missile system designed to shoot down ballistic missiles in their terminal phase using a hit-to-kill approach.

Washington says the deployment of the missile system to the Korean Peninsula acts as a deterrent against North Korea's ballistic missile program, but Russia and China say such a move would undermine stability on the restive peninsula.

"The Korea-US alliance had no choice but to take such a defense action because North Korea staged a strategic provocation and is refusing to have a genuine dialog on de-nuclearization," Yoo added.

Vandal, for his part, said it was "time to move forward" with the THAAD issue, adding that there was "growing support" in South Korea for the deployment.

Later on Sunday, the United Nations Security Council is slated to hold an emergency meeting in New York to discuss North Korea's recent rocket launch following requests by Japan, South Korea and the United States.

The three countries have slammed the North's launch as a violation of the Security Council resolutions that ban Pyongyang from any ballistic missile or nuclear activity.

North Korea declared itself a nuclear power in 2005 and carried out several nuclear weapon tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013. It also conducted its fourth nuclear test in January, triggering condemnation from the international community.

Pyongyang is under UN sanctions over launching missiles considered by the US and South Korea as ballistic and aimed at delivering nuclear warheads.

North Korea says it is boosting defense capabilities in the face of enemy threats. The country is irked by joint military maneuvers by South Korea and the US and views them as direct threats against its security.

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