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South Korea not ruling out THAAD defense system, despite Chinese objections

Beijing officials have previously expressed concern regarding the deployment of the nuclear deterrent on the peninsula.

By
Elizabeth Shim
The U.S. missile defense system THAAD, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, has been under review in South Korea. Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Defense
The U.S. missile defense system THAAD, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, has been under review in South Korea. Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Defense

SEOUL, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- North Korea provocations are pushing South Korea toward strengthening its system of defense and to possibly deploy an advanced U.S. missile system on the peninsula.

South Korean military officers with the Combined Forces Command, specializing in new weapons purchases, had traveled to the United States to possibly discuss defense measures, South Korean television network SBS reported.

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Executives from Lockheed Martin also traveled to South Korea seven times since November. South Korea press reported the trips were in preparation for the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system on the peninsula.

In January, Seoul's Defense Ministry had said South Korea plans to review the potential deployment of THAAD by U.S. forces in the country, and that the review would take into account North Korea's nuclear and missile threats, as well as Seoul's security and national interests.

RELATED North Korea site activity shows preparations for launch

During a press briefing Thursday, Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun did not deny the United States and South Korea were in talks regarding THAAD.

South Korea, however, remains wary of provoking China. Beijing officials have previously expressed concern regarding the deployment of the nuclear deterrent on the peninsula and its capacities for regional surveillance.

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Chinese state media expressed concern on Thursday about the deployment of THAAD in South Korea, while urging North Korea to stop its plans to launch an "Earth observation satellite."

RELATED U.S., South Korea, Japan working closely to deter North Korea

Chinese state-owned newspaper People's Daily stated in an editorial that China "absolutely cannot allow" the deployment of THAAD on the peninsula because it does not work toward denuclearization.

Beijing's populist tabloid Global Times took a different approach, taking aim at North Korea's launch plans, warning Pyongyang that it would "pay a price" if it goes ahead with the firing of a rocket that is believed to be a cover for a test of a long-range ballistic missile.

"Chinese society and the government supports the strengthening of sanctions against North Korea," the statement read.

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