U.S. Insists THAAD Does Not Target China

  • By Yu Yong-weon

    August 12, 2016 11:06

    The director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency on Thursday insisted that the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery to be stationed in Korea does not target China.

    Vice Adm. James Syring told reporters during a visit here that the battery will not be part of the U.S.’ umbrella missile defense system.

    "THAAD is a proven capability," Syring said. "The system has successfully intercepted targets in 13 of the 13 tests. THAAD is strictly a defensive system. It employs an interceptor with hit-to-kill technology that destroys potentially incoming North Korean missiles."

    Syring said six of the 13 tests involved mid-range ballistic missiles with ranges of less than 3,000 km and the rest long-range missiles.

    He said the tests "have been done over period of years and as that success has been achieved, we move on to longer-range tests."

    U.S. Missile Defense Agency Director James Syring speaks at a press conference at the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul on Thursday. /Yonhap

    Syring played down jitters in Beijing that the battery's radar could monitor Chinese military movements.

    "The THAAD deployment is strictly a [Korea-U.S.] alliance issue, in terms of information sharing. It will not be part of a wider missile defense network that MDA has developed and the combatant commands around the world utilize," he said. "It will be solely for the purpose of the defense of [Korea]. And it will not be shared with Guam or any other part of the ballistic missile defense system."

    He added that the THAAD battery being deployed here will only use the shorter-range terminal mode radar and not the forward-based mode that has a range of beyond 1,000 km.

    Chinese commentators have expressed fears that the two modes use the same hardware, and changing the mode is just a question of switching software.

    But Syring insisted the system "never has been and never will" be used against China. "We don't defend against China as a threat."

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