October 19, 2016 09:58
The White House on Monday defended the decision to station a U.S. Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery in South Korea, citing North Korea's latest launch of medium-range ballistic missile and its threat to conduct another nuclear test.
The U.S. "has worked with our partners and allies in the region to isolate North Korea and to apply pressure to them to try to persuade them not to engage in this kind of destabilizing behavior," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. "And the United States is prepared and has mobilized the appropriate military resources to defend our allies and ourselves."
"And that is why [we have] been in discussions with our South Korean allies about deploying a THAAD battery, an anti-ballistic missile battery, to South Korea to protect South Korea from the ballistic missile threat emanating from North Korea," he added.
The decision to station the THAAD battery here has angered China as well as North Korea and exacerbated tensions in the region.
Earnest also commented on threats by North Korean Foreign Ministry official Ri Yong-pil of further nuclear tests and preparation for a preemptive strike on the U.S. in an interview with NBC the previous day.
"We've been deeply concerned about the willingness of the North Korean regime to ignore or even flout their basic international obligations," Earnest said. "Both China and Russia have expressed concerns about this kind of destabilizing behavior from the North Koreans. And it's an indication of just how isolated the North Koreans are right now."
The U.S. State Department also condemned the threat.
State Department spokeswoman Anna Richey-Allen in an interview with VOA urged Pyongyang to refrain from behavior and rhetoric that heighten tensions in the region.
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