South Korea Confirms Plans to Continue THAAD Deployment
The new South Korean administration confirmed that it will not abandon the agreement with the US on the deployment of the THAAD system amid claims by the president about the possible suspension of the deployment of the launchers to further study their environmental impact, Chung Eui-yong, national adviser to Korean President Moon Jae-in said.
TOKY (Sputnik) – On Wednesday, the presidential office announced deployment suspension of the new THAAD launchers, currently stored at a US army base, until the completion of environmental impact assessments, denying the reports the withdrawal of already deployed launchers, including two installed in Seongju [county in the north] during the election campaign. The move apparently raised questions in Washington whether Seoul's new liberal administration may be seeking withdrawal from THAAD.
"Our government does not intend to fundamentally change what was promised under the Korea-U.S. alliance," South Korean President's national security adviser Chung Eui-yong said, as quoted by Korean news agency Yonhap, adding that the government is "fully aware of North Korea's nuclear and missile threats."
The THAAD system deployment was agreed on by the United States and South Korea in July 2016, following five months of negotiations with the previous Korean administration. Before being elected president, Moon had often criticized THAAD deployment, calling for its approval by the parliament.
THAAD is designed for high-altitude extra-atmospheric interception of short and medium-ranged missiles and can be potentially used against North Korean ballistic missiles. According to the South Korean Defense Ministry, the range of THAAD does not exceed 200 kilometers.
The THAAD deployment system has been triggering concerns among China and Russia over increased activity of the United States on the Korean Peninsula. Japan, on the other hand, has been expressing support of the program, underlining that THAAD deployment will contribute to peace and stability in the region.
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