THAAD Missile Defense Issue Stirs Debate

kpopluv, March 18, 2015, 8:01 a.m.

Diplomatic wrangling with China intensified on Tuesday over the deployment of the U.S.' Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system in Korea. Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters, "A neighboring country can have its own position about the U.S. Forces Korea's deployment of THAAD, but it should not try to exert influence on our security policies." 

The comments came after Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao said Monday it would be "appreciated if Seoul takes account of China's concerns and worries." Beijing does not want the USFK to deploy the THAAD system here because it forms the core of Washington's missile defense aimed at containing China. 

But Kim said, "The issue originated from efforts to deter and counter the increasing threat from North Korea." He added, "Should the U.S. ask for consultation over the issue, the Defense Ministry will make its own decision in consideration of the military efficacy and national security interests."

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel told reporters after meeting with Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yong the same day, "I find it curious that a third country would presume to make strong representations about a security system that has not been put in place, and that is still a matter of theory."

"I think that it is for [South] Korea to decide what measures it will take in its own alliance defense and when," Russel added. But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said, "When pursuing its own security interests, one country should take into account other's security concerns as well as regional peace and stability. China holds a consistent and clear stance on the anti-missile issue." "We hope certain countries can be prudent when handling relevant issues," Hong added. 

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