Washington, March 7 : The United States has started deploying anti-missile defense system in South Korea on Tuesday following North Korea’s test of four ballistic missiles into the sea off Japan’s northwest coast.
"Continued provocative actions by North Korea, to include yesterday's launch of multiple missiles, only confirm the prudence of our alliance decision last year to deploy THAAD to South Korea," U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Harry Harris said in a statement, referring to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system.
The announcement came as North Korean state media said that its leader Kim Jong Un had personally supervised Monday's missile launches by an army unit that is positioned to strike U.S. bases in Japan, stepping up threats against Washington as U.S. troops conduct joint military exercises with South Korea.
This move by the U.S. is likely to deepen the ongoing conflict between S. Korea and China, which is opposing the THAAD deployment, stating it destroys the regional security balance, states GengShuang, Chinese foreign spokesman.
"The consequences of this are on the shoulders of the United States and South Korea. We again strongly urge the relevant sides to stop the deployment process and not keep going down the wrong path," he said.
The THAAD is a U.S. Army anti-ballistic missile system designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles. It has a range of 200 kms and can reach an altitude of 150 kms.
The missiles North Korea fired on Monday were unlikely to have been intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and would not possibly reach America, according to South Korea. Some of the missiles landed as close as 300 kms from Japan’s northwest coast, Japan’s defense minister said.