World / US and Canada

No decision on US missile deployment: S Korea

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-09-05 14:13

SEOUL -- The US Defense Department confirmed that nothing has been decided yet on its reported plan to deploy an advanced missile-defense battery to the Korean Peninsula, South Korea's defense ministry said Friday.

The confirmation came after local newspaper Donga Ilbo reported citing a senior US Defense Department official that talks about bringing a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile battery into South Korea were at the final stage, and the deployment would be officially announced as early as in October.

Seoul's Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told a press briefing that the US government made clear that no decision has been made on the THAAD deployment, saying the US stance was confirmed through its defense department.

The US forces in South Korea called for the THAAD deployment, on which the defense department has reached no conclusion, Kim said, noting the US did not request South Korea for consultations on the missile-defense system.

Despite the denial, speculations escalated that the THAAD system would be introduced on the peninsula. US Forces Korea ( USFK) Commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti said in early June he called for Washington to bring the THAAD into the peninsula.

Former South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, who now serves as top national security adviser to President Park Geun-hye, told lawmakers in mid-June that it would be "no matter" if the US forces deploy the THAAD.

The US Defense Department official was quoted by the Donga Ilbo as saying that a THAAD missile battery was highly likely to be deployed to a USFK base in Pyeongtaek, some 70 km south of Seoul.

Under the 2004 agreement, Seoul and Washington would relocate the US military headquarters in central Seoul and the 2nd Infantry Division in Uijeongbu north of Seoul to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek by the end of 2016.

The official said the final decision would be officially announced as early as in October when defense ministers of the two countries hold their annual Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) in Washington.

Whether to deploy one more THAAD battery to South Korea has been under internal reviews in the US if South Korea shares costs for the deployment, estimated about 2 trillion won (some 2 billion US dollars),with a battery composed of six mobile launchers and 48 missiles striking targets at an altitude of 40- 150 km.

The US has claimed the South Korean missile-defense system is not enough to defend DPRK's missile threats as the PAC-2 interceptors held currently by the South Korean military strike targets at an altitude of some 20 km.

The Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD), South Korea's own missile defense system which would be established by 2020, aims at intercepting missiles at an altitude of 20-40 km.

The US military official, however, added that the deployment of another THAAD battery has not been decided yet.

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