U.S., South Korea to discuss THAAD deployment

The discussion on the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile defense system is likely to spike tensions with China.
By Elizabeth Shim  |  Feb. 12, 2016 at 12:00 PM
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SEOUL, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- The United States and South Korea are scheduled to meet next week to discuss the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile defense system on the peninsula, a move that is likely to spike tensions with China.

Seoul's Defense Ministry said talks pertaining to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system are to begin soon, South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh reported Friday.

A joint working group is to lay out plans for timing of deployment and a possible location for THAAD – a topic that is raising the concern of the South Korean public.

A senior ministry official who spoke to Hankyoreh on the condition of anonymity said any decision would consider the safety of residents and the environment, and denied local media reports that China's opinion on the matter would factor into the location of deployment.

China has warned South Korea against the deployment of THAAD and is suspicious of U.S. motives and the possibility the technology could be used toward regional surveillance.

But Seoul's main objective is to establish a defense against possible North Korea nuclear missiles aimed for South Korea or the United States, and one military official familiar with the developments told local newspaper Kyunghyang Shinmun there is a possibility THAAD could be deployed in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, an area proximal to Seoul and a U.S. military base.

Ruling party lawmaker Lee Wan-young said there is a low probability THAAD would be deployed at Camp Carroll, a U.S. Army base near Daegu, Korea's third-largest city. Lee said he supports moves to enhance national security but residents' opinions must be taken into consideration.

China has continued to file complaints with Seoul regarding THAAD.

Yonhap reported Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se that maintaining regional peace and stability must come first, according to an unidentified Beijing official who said THAAD would "undermine the strategic security interests of China."

Wang and Yun met in Munich on Thursday, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with both officials individually.

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