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South Korea says it has no plans to discuss THAAD deployment

Both Seoul and the Pentagon have denied the claims that talks on THAAD deployment were ongoing, but a Lockheed Martin executive said the two countries are discussing the North Korean nuclear deterrent.

By
Elizabeth Shim
Lockheed Martin executive Mike Trotsky said discussion of THAAD deployment was taking place between Seoul and the Pentagon, but both governments have denied the claim. Photo Courtesy of U.S. Department of Defense
Lockheed Martin executive Mike Trotsky said discussion of THAAD deployment was taking place between Seoul and the Pentagon, but both governments have denied the claim. Photo Courtesy of U.S. Department of Defense

SEOUL, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- South Korea's Defense Ministry denied reports that Seoul and Washington were engaged in negotiations over the possible deployment of a THAAD, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System on the peninsula.

"There are no current discussions, nor are there plans to discuss THAAD deployment with the United States government...[Seoul's] position remains unchanged," Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said on Friday, South Korean newspaper Herald Business reported.

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On Thursday, however, Lockheed Martin told reporters in Washington that the United States and South Korea were holding both formal and informal discussions on THAAD deployment, South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported.

Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Mike Trotsky, vice president of air and missile defense at Lockheed Martin, said that while he could not divulge policy details, he could confirm the two countries were in discussion.

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Both Seoul and the Pentagon have denied the claims that talks on THAAD deployment were ongoing, Yonhap reported. On Sept. 10, South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo had told a parliamentary committee that the "issue of THAAD" was under U.S. review, but did not provide further details.

Trotsky said it would make sense for South Korea to build a multi-layered defense system, like the United States. The U.S. ballistic missile defense system is made up of the Aegis Combat System, THAAD, and the Patriot air defense system, and Trotsky added that once Seoul and Washington arrive at a decision, his firm would be committed to supporting their goals.

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Earlier this year, however, analysts debated the effectiveness of THAAD as a North Korea missile deterrent. MIT physicist Theodore Postol and his Cornell colleague George Lewis had said that while THAAD could serve as a deterrent against North Korea's Scud B and C, as well as No-Dong surface-to-air missiles, the unpredictable trajectory of North Korea missiles makes it hard for THAAD to distinguish between the warhead and the missile body when it travels through the air at high speeds.

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