China Pitches Fit Over South Korea’s Latest Missile Defense Move

KCNA/via Reuters

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter

China has ramped up its rhetoric in response to South Korea’s decision on the deployment site for a new missile shield.

The U.S. and South Korea will install a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in Seongju. THAAD will be deployed on a golf course next year, reports Yonhap News Agency.

“We have conducted a simulation-based evaluation of three alternative sites in Seongju. The test results showed the Lotte Skyhill Country Club is the most optimal site for THAAD,” Ministry of National Defense spokesman Moon Sang-gyun told Yonhap reporters.

“The government is determined to finish the THAAD installation within the next year without fail to better protect the security of the country and life of its people from the evolving nuclear and missile threats from North Korea,” explained a Ministry of National Defense statement on the THAAD program.

As the U.S. and South Korea make progress on deploying THAAD, China, which firmly opposes the program, has become even more critical of the project.

“China has made its position on THAAD clear many times,” China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shaung said Friday during a regular press conference. “It’s placement on the Korean Peninsula will not resolve security issues of relevant countries, nor will it help realize denuclearization and maintain peace and stability on the peninsula.”

“It’s deployment will hurt the strategic and security interests of countries and undermine the strategic balance in the region,” he added. “China firmly opposes THAAD and we will take necessary measures to maintain the strategic balance.”

THAAD’s X-band radar has a range greater than 1,200 miles, and China argues that the new missile shield will allow the U.S. to peer into Chinese and Russian territories, collect radar data on Chinese and Russian warheads and strategic missiles, and effectively cripple each country’s nuclear deterrent.

“This is a defensive measure aimed not at China, but at North Korea. It is a defense based decision, not a political decision. And it is part of a layered system of defense that will augment many military installations and systems currently in place,” Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel said Tuesday during a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific hearing.

North Korea has not yet commented on the latest news on the THAAD program; its response is likely to be consistent with previous statements.

“If THAAD is deployed in South Korea, it will be exposed to nuclear strikes here and there as the primary target,” a Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) report from Sept. 21 said.

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