South Korea confirms THAAD deployment amid concerns

Seoul said the U.S.-South Korea decision stands as a Chinese politician issued another warning Monday.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |  June 26, 2017 at 9:36 AM
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June 26 (UPI) -- South Korea's newly appointed foreign minister said Monday Seoul has no intention of rolling back the decision to deploy the U.S. THAAD battery, the U.S. missile defense system strongly opposed in China.

Addressing an audience of former U.S. officials, including former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Kang Kyung-hwa said Seoul remains committed to deploying THAAD and working closely with the United States.

"My government has no intention to basically reverse the commitments made in the spirit of the [U.S.-South Korea] alliance," Kang said Monday. "Going through the environmental impact assessment is an issue of domestic due process and it does not mean that we will cancel or reverse the decision to deploy THAAD."

The statement, made at the JoongAng Ilbo-CSIS Forum in Seoul, came the same day Zhang Ping, the vice chairman of China's National People's Congress, called on South Korea to "get rid of the major obstacle called THAAD," during a meeting of 25 European and Asian parliamentary leaders at another Seoul forum, Yonhap reported.

"The South Korean side must pay attention to the THAAD issue, we hope they communicate the right signals to the Chinese side regarding THAAD," Zhang said at the meeting.

Beijing has been pressuring South Korean businesses operating in China following the increased cooperation between the United States and South Korea on THAAD, which was deployed in April, before the inauguration of South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Moon's administration has called for an extended environmental impact analysis before the further deployment of additional launchers to the THAAD site in Seongju, a move that was met with criticism.

THAAD has been described by the U.S. military as "absolutely critical" to defending U.S. forces and the South Korean population from North Korea threats.

North Korea's weapons are "at the top" of U.S. President Donald Trump's mind, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Saturday on MSNBC.

According to Pompeo, he and Trump talk for nearly an hour daily on North Korea.

"I hardly ever escape a day at the White House without the president asking me about North Korea and how it is that the United States is responding to that threat," Pompeo said.

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