May 21, 2015 09:34
The U.S. wants to station Terminal High Altitude Area Defense batteries in Korea permanently, according to a senior U.S. official.
Frank Rose, an assistant secretary of state, was speaking at a seminar hosted by the Institute for Corean-American Studies in Washington Tuesday.
"Although we're considering the permanent stationing of a THAAD unit on the Korean Peninsula, we have not made a final decision and we've had no formal consultations with [South] Korea on a potential THAAD deployment," he claimed.
But he added, "Let me be clear on a couple of points. THAAD is a purely defensive system that would improve our ability to intercept short- and medium-range missiles from North Korea. It does not and cannot impact broader strategic stability with Russia or China."
Beijing is worried about the plans because the THAAD system forms the core of the U.S. missile defense in the Pacific which aims to contain China.
U.S. pressure on Seoul to approve the deployment of THAAD batteries here is growing. Secretary of State John Kerry called for their deployment during a visit to South Korea on Monday. But both sides cling to the increasingly flimsy fiction that the matter has never been discussed.
"We understand that an internal discussion on the issue is underway in the U.S. and there's been no result yet," Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Min Kyung-wook claimed. "If there is a request from the U.S., we will make a decision on our own based on a comprehensive study of military effectiveness and national security."
Some government officials here are worried by the senior U.S. officials' remarks. They suspect the U.S. is after a bigger financial contribution for the upkeep of the U.S. Forces Korea.
A THAAD battery costs W1.5-2 trillion (US$1=W1,096).
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