After months of negotiations, Washington and Seoul have agreed to deploy an advanced anti-missile weapons system that will help South Korea protect itself from its restive northern neighbor. The LA Times reports:
The decision to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system was formally announced at a news conference Friday in Seoul by Gen. Thomas Vandal, chief of staff for the U.S. forces in South Korea, and South Korea’s deputy minister of defense, Ryu Je-seung.
“North Korea’s continued development of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction, in opposition to its commitments to the international community, require our alliance to ensure that we retain the ability defend ourselves in the face of this threat,” Vandal said.
The system “will be focused solely on North Korean nuclear and missile threats and would not be directed towards any third party nations,” the Pentagon added in a statement.
China, predictably, isn’t happy:
“China is very unsatisfied and resolutely opposes” the move, China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday. “The missile system is unhelpful in realizing the goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, is no good for the stabilization of the peninsula, runs counter to the effort of various parties’ negotiations, and will severely damage the safety of China and nearby countries and the regional strategic balance.”
Of course, Beijing might have prevented THAAD’s deployment, had its diplomats been able to bring North Korea in line. But Pyongyang hasn’t seemed deterred by China this year, and the weapons tests are only getting more frequent.
The other actor worth keeping an eye on is Russia, which also has been warning for months against deploying a THAAD system in the area. Responding to news of the deployment, Moscow said it is considering sending its own missiles to eastern Siberia. China won’t be happy about that either.