WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- North Korea denuclearization could preclude the need to deploy a U.S. anti-missile defense system in South Korea, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said after talks with China on regional issues.
Kerry made the remarks Tuesday regarding the THAAD system during a joint news conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Kerry said the two sides have made significant "progress" on a pending United Nations Security Council resolution.
"We have said that if we can get to denuclearization, there's no need to deploy THAAD," Kerry said, according to The New York Times, referring to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system.
China has repeatedly warned South Korea and the United States against THAAD deployment. The sophisticated deterrent can intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles from North Korea, but it is also capable of regional surveillance that can monitor Chinese activities on the mainland.
Seoul, however, is growing weary of Beijing's admonishments and on Wednesday presidential spokesman Jung Youn-kuk told Beijing not to interfere in U.S.-South Korea arrangements.
"This is a matter we will decide upon according to our own security and national interests," Jung said. "The Chinese had better recognize this point."
Earlier, Chinese Ambassador to Seoul Qiu Guohong aid bilateral relations could be "destroyed in an instant" if Seoul agreed to THAAD deployment.
"The two nations have worked a lot to develop bilateral ties as they are today, but these efforts could be destroyed in an instant because of this one problem, and it would be difficult to restore the relations," Qiu said, according to a South Korean opposition party leader.
Earlier on Tuesday, Kerry said Beijing and Washington are reviewing draft sanctions, and if the two sides reach an agreement, international sanctions related to North Korea's nuclear and missile development could far exceed previous measures, South Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo reported.
Kerry said the two sides agree completely on the need for an appropriate response from the U.N. Security Council.