June 02, 2017 09:47
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin on Wednesday warned President Moon Jae-in that Washington could divert the money for the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery that has been stationed here somewhere else.
The peevish outburst came after Moon pledged to have the National Assembly reexamine the process of the THAAD deployment, which was rushed through by the previous administration.
Durbin is a ranking member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and therefore has a say in how the U.S. spends its defense budget.
"I basically said to him two things," Durbin told the Yonhap news agency. "We face tough budget times in Washington. We are cutting a lot of programs. And if South Korea does not want the THAAD missile system, it is US$923 million that we can spend some other place."
"I believe that if I lived in South Korea, I would want as many missile defense systems as possible to protect against the hundreds of ballistic missiles which North Korea could rain on the South should war begin," he added. "I don't understand why that feeling does not dominate this conversation. I think national security and defense should dominate."
Cheong Wa Dae made no mention of this during a press briefing the previous day.
Durbin added, "I said several times that protecting U.S. forces in Korea is important to me. It should be important to people of South Korea. These U.S. forces -- 28,500 -- are risking their lives for the safety of South Korea and they should be protected as should all of the people in Korea."
But Durbin is the Democratic whip, and his party has been completely routed in both houses of the U.S. Congress, so it is unclear how much sway his opinions hold.
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