June 23, 2017 10:01
President Moon Jae-in said Thursday the deployment of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery from the U.S. here was "mysteriously" accelerated.
In an interview with Reuters on Thursday, Moon said only one THAAD launcher was scheduled to be deployed in 2017 here under an agreement with the U.S., and the remaining five next year.
The deal was rushed and secretive, with the Park Geun-hye administration denying until the last minute that the matter was being discussed at all for fear of upsetting China. The whole battery was then suddenly moved here in a pre-dawn operation in March.
U.S. Forces Korea Commander Vincent Brooks, said in November last year that the THAAD battery will be deployed here within eight to 10 months. "But for some reason that I do not know, this entire THAAD process was accelerated," Moon added.
Two launchers were set up warfare-ready on a former golf course in southeastern Korea in March and the other four put in storage nearby the following month. Moon said the aim of a review currently underway is to restore due process and public confidence in the workings of government.
Moon also called on China to do more to enforce international sanctions against North Korea. The North will soon acquire the technology to deploy a "nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the U.S mainland," he said, adding that "strong sanctions" must be implemented against the isolated state if it launches another long-range missile or conducts another nuclear test.
"I believe China is making efforts to stop North Korea from making additional provocations, yet there are no tangible results as of yet," Moon said. "China is North Korea's only ally and China is the country that provides the most economic assistance to North Korea. Without the assistance of China, sanctions won't be effective at all."
But he expressed confidence that South Korea and the U.S. can resolve the nuclear standoff if U.S. President Donald Trump keeps the issue at the top of his agenda. Moon said he has "high expectations" of their summit next week.
He also said he wants to use the G20 Summit in Germany next month to sit down face to face "with as many leaders as possible" including Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
He explained that many South Koreans did not accept a deal reached by ex-President Park Geun-hye and Abe in 2015 to compensate victims of wartime sex slavery. "Japan does not make full efforts to resolve issues of history between the two countries," he said.
He also noted that increased military spending by Japan is a concern. "If Japan were to show its strong resolve in looking back on its past history and sending a message that such actions will never happen again... then I believe that this will go a long way in further developing its relations with not only [South] Korea, but also with many other Asian nations."
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