July 11, 2016 09:59
South Korea and the U.S. on Friday agreed to station Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense batteries on the Korean Peninsula.
The agreement came five months after Seoul and Washington finally admitted they are in talks over the deployment of the THAAD batteries and two years after former U.S. Forces Korea commander Curtis Scaparrotti first raised the issue.
The location of the THAAD battery deployment will be announced later this month, and they will be stationed here some time next year.
Deputy Defense Minister Yoo Jeh-seung and USFK Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal made the announcement in a press conference.
Yoo said the measure aims "to guarantee the security of [South Korea] and its people from the threat of North Korea's nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, as well as to protect the military assets" of the South Korea-U.S. alliance.
Yoo added that the THAAD is "not aimed at a third country" -- a reference to China, which is opposed to their deployment here because it suspects they are part of U.S. efforts to contain China.
Yoo said the location for deployment has already been chosen. Candidate sites have been Pyeongtaek south of Seoul, Chilgok in North Gyeongsang Province, Gunsan in North Jeolla Province and Wonju, Gangwon Province, but sources ruled them all out.
Sources in the ruling Saenuri Party said the location will be a missile defense base in the southern part of the country. The ministry said it will not reveal the exact location for security reasons but will identify the city and county. The military will try to persuade local residents.
The U.S. plans to deploy a new THAAD system set for production next year instead of an existing battery that has already been used in the U.S.
The government here says it informed China and Russia, the two strongest opponents, of the decision last Thursday.
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