'Nothing to Apologize For' - Still, Seoul Won't Install More THAAD Systems
Seoul will not move forward with deploying more Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile batteries.
"We are not considering any additional THAAD deployment," South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told lawmakers Monday, Yonhap News reports.
The US and South Korean militaries began installing THAAD batteries, designed to intercept short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, in May, much to China's and Russia's ire.
The deployment has been touted by the US as a necessary measure to neutralize North Korean missiles, but they aren't adequate for what might be North Korea's most potent threat: artillery shells aimed at South Koreans and the nearly 30,000 US forces stationed on the Korean Peninsula.
THAAD isn't capable of intercepting artillery shells, Russian Foreign Ministry official Georgiy Borisenko pointed out during an interview with Sputnik News. "Therefore, they are simply not needed against North Korea. So, we and our partners in China are well-aware that
THAAD is directed against Russia and China," Borisenko said October 11.
Kang disputed the charges during her comments, insisting THAAD is not intended to threaten regional parties. "As explained on many occasions before, the THAAD system is a self-defense measure," the diplomat said, adding that Seoul has "nothing to apologize for."
The controversial missile defense systems attracted widespread domestic resistance, too. Hundreds of South Korean residents and police clashed during protests in June when the US installed four more THAAD units, bring the total number of THAAD systems in South Korea to six.
Each THAAD system features six vehicle-mounted launchers, 48 interceptors, a fire and control communications unit, and an AN/TYP-2 radar. They were installed in Seogju, South Korea, 300 km (186 miles) from Seoul.
South Korea and the US agreed to jointly deploy THAAD in July 2016, "as a defensive measure" to "protect alliance military forces from North Korea's weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile threats," the Pentagon said at the time.
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