Published: Sun, April 30, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

US Moves Anti-Missile System To South Korean Site

US Moves Anti-Missile System To South Korean Site

"The timely deployment of the THAAD system by U.S. Pacific Command and the secretary of defense gives my command great confidence in the support we will receive when we ask for reinforcement or advanced capabilities", Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, the commander of U.S. Forces Korea, said when the elements arrived.

The United States and South Korea agreed previous year to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, to counter the growing threat from the North.

A THAAD battery, including the one now being installed in southern South Korea, consists of six truck-mounted launchers that can fire up to 48 interceptor missiles. He also said he's been skeptical of China's willingness to exert its influence over North Korea and convince Pyongyang to pull back from the brink.

The work to set up the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, within this year has angered North Korea, China and Russian Federation, which see the system's powerful radars as a security threat.

"We have expressed serious concern to the US and South Korean sides", Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang said Wednesday. China will take "necessary measures to defend our own interests", he promised.

China is North Korea's sole major ally and is seen as crucial to US-led efforts to rein in its bellicose, isolated neighbor. And the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier is also headed toward the peninsula for a joint exercise with South Korea.

South Korea is holding a presidential election next month to choose a successor to ousted leader Park Geun-Hye, and Seoul and Washington are pressing ahead with the deployment with some candidates ambivalent over the system - including front-runner Moon Jae-In, of the left-leaning Democratic Party.

Television footage showed military trailers carrying large units including what appeared to be launch canisters being driven into the planned THAAD battery site, about 250 kilometres (155 miles) south of Seoul.

Dozens of police lined the road, trying to block hundreds of protesters, some of whom were hurling water bottles at the vehicles.

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The United States and South Korea agreed to deploy THAAD in response to the threat of missile launches by North Korea.

Kim said about 200 protesters rallied overnight and they would keep up their opposition.

Along with sending US military assets to the region in a show of force, President Donald Trump is leaning on China to exert economic pressure on its wayward ally.

A police official in the nearby town of Seongju said police had withdrawn from the area and were not aware of any injuries.

"What is different about how China is viewing the problem in North Korea today is that China is viewing that problem as a threat not only to U.S. interests and security, or South Korea and/or Japanese interests and security, but also a threat to Chinese interests and security.?And so I think that is a big shift in and of itself", the official said.

The deployment of the missile system has experienced many delays since last summer's agreement between the United States and South Korea.

A U.S. submarine created to carry 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles entered a South Korean port on Tuesday as the USS Carl Vinson carrier group steamed towards the Korean waters in an effort to deter the North from a sixth nuclear test and more missile launches. South Korea has raised suspicions that China is retaliating against plans for THAAD by limiting Chinese tour group visits to South Korea, whose economy is increasingly dependent on Chinese tourism and demand for its industrial products.

North Korea's foreign ministry denounced a scheduled UN Security Council meeting on Friday, chaired by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, saying the United States was "not morally entitled" to force members states to impose sanctions on it.

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