World / Asia-Pacific

S.Korea, US decide to deploy THAAD in US Forces Korea

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-07-08 10:42

SEOUL - The Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States on Friday announced their final decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in the US Forces Korea (USFK) despite continued oppositions from neighboring countries.

The military authorities jointly made an official announcement to deploy the advanced US missile defense system in the USFK stationed on the Korean peninsula to tackle the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s nuclear and missile threats.

Seoul and Washington reportedly aim to deploy one THAAD battery by the end of next year, which would be operated by the allied forces under the operational control of the USFK commander. A THAAD battery is composed of six mobile launchers, 48 interceptors, airborne radar and fire control system.

Seoul allegedly has no plan to purchase the THAAD system estimated at about 1.5 trillion won (1.3 billion US dollars). Seoul would provide site and infrastructure for the deployment, while Washington would pay costs for operation and maintenance.

The deployment site would be announced within weeks. Potential candidate sites are known to be Pyeongtaek in Gyeonggi province, Wonju in Gangwon province, Eumseong in South Chungcheong province, Chilgok in North Gyeongsang province and Gunsan in North Jeolla province.

The announcement came despite repeated oppositions from China and Russia, which have opposed to the THAAD deployment on the Korean peninsula as the US missile defense system far exceeds the ROK's actual defense needs and would directly threaten the strategic security of the two countries.

The THAAD's radar can locate missiles far beyond the DPRK territory, causing China and Russia to repeatedly voice serious concerns over the deployment. The X-band radar can spot missile as far as 2,000 km with forward-based mode and 600 km with terminal mode. As the two have the same hardware, the terminal mode, which South Korea allegedly plans to adopt, can be changed into the radar with a much longer detectable range.

China's foreign ministry said in a statement Friday that the Chinese side is strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposes to the deployment of THAAD in South Korea.

The Seoul defense ministry allegedly notified its neighboring countries, including China and Russia, of its final decision to deploy the US missile defense system on Thursday afternoon.

The joint statement said that if the THAAD is deployed on the Korean peninsula, it will not target any other third country but will be operated only in response to the DPRK's nuclear and missile threats.

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