The US military has begun deploying an anti-ballistic missile defense system to South Korea, following a string of missile tests by North Korea, the US Pacific Command said.
Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) is a United States Army anti-ballistic missile system designed to shoot down short, medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase using a hit-to-kill approach
The announcement came after nuclear-armed North Korea yesterday launched four missiles which it said was part of training for a strike on US bases in Japan. Three of the missiles came down provocatively close to Japan.
Deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system “contributes to a layered missile defense system and enhances the US-ROK Alliance’s defense against North Korean missile threats,” the Pacific Command yesterday said in a statement.
“North Korea’s accelerating program of nuclear weapons tests and ballistic missile launches constitute a threat to international peace and security, and are in violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions.”
South Korea and the United States agreed last year to install the THAAD system, which China has repeatedly denounced as a threat to its security.
The statement from the Pacific Command, which oversees US military operations in the Asia-Pacific, pointed out that the system is “a strictly defensive capability and it poses no threat to other countries in the region.”
The system is meant to intercept and destroy short and medium-range ballistic missiles during their final phase of flight.
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council decided to hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday on North Korea’s latest missile launches, the US mission said.
The meeting scheduled for 10 AM (local time) was requested by the United States and Japan after Pyongyang launched at least four ballistic missiles, three of which fell in the sea close to Japan.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the latest missile tests and urged Pyongyang to “refrain from further provocations.”
The launches were the latest in a series of test-firings that violate UN resolutions barring Pyongyang from developing missile technology.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley said on Twitter that the world “won’t allow” North Korea to continue on its “destructive path.”
South Korea said four missiles were fired from Tongchang County in North Pyongan province into the East Sea — its name for the Sea of Japan.
The missiles traveled about 1,000 kilometers and reached an altitude of 260 kilometers, a spokesman for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.