SEOUL, July 8 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea and the United States have agreed to deploy a high-tech antiballistic-missile interception system in the Northeast Asian country to upgrade the allies’ defense against North Korea’s increasing nuclear and missile threats, the defense ministry said Friday.
The decision came after five months of negotiations between Seoul and Washington over whether to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, an advanced air defense shield that makes up the U.S.’ mainland missile defense system.
The allies started the negotiations shortly after North Korea fired a long-range missile in early February in a defiant test of intercontinental ballistic missile technology after conducting its fourth nuclear test the previous month.
“South Korea and the U.S. have made the joint decision to deploy the THAAD system with U.S. Forces Korea as part of a defensive action to guarantee the security of the Republic of Korea and our people from North Korea’s nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile threats,” the Ministry of National Defense said.
The deployment is also designed to protect the military power of the bilateral alliance, it said
The allies’ joint working group is currently in the final stages of proposing a site for the THAAD deployment to the countries’ defense chiefs, the ministry noted.
“South Korea and the U.S. are working closely together to deploy the THAAD system as soon as possible,” according to the ministry.
When THAAD is deployed, it will not target countries other than North Korea and be exclusively used to deal with the communist country’s nuclear and missile threats, the ministry also said, brushing off China’s protests raised over the deployment move.
“The deployment of THAAD will contribute to (the buildup of) a multi-layer missile defense and strengthen the South Korea-U.S. alliance’s missile defense capabilities against North Korea’s missile intimidation,” it said.