South Korea defense ministry reaffirmed today its long-held stance of not purchasing an advanced missile-defense battery from the United States amid growing calls from its ruling party lawmakers to introduce it to better guard against North Korea’s missiles. According to Yonhap news agency in Seoul.
“The defense ministry has no plan to purchase a THAAD system,” ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told a regular briefing. “Basically, the system would do good to better defend the country from missiles from North Korea, but we will make a judgment by putting the national interest as our top priority.”
The U.S. considered a deployment of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery on Korean soil, home to about 28,500 American troops, to better cope with the growing threats of Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile capabilities. The US move is seen as part of Washington’s move to deploy a missile defense ‘ring’ around the Pacific Ocean, countering what seems to be a growing intercontinental and medium-range ballistic missile threat from China and North Korea.
The US proposal has won some support from lawmakers from the ruling party but the ministry of defense objects to it. Korean officials, including defense minister Han Min-koo, have said THAAD deployment would be helpful for the security of the Korean Peninsula, they said Seoul is not considering buying the system. Officially, South Korea has deferred the missile defense decision “after the U.S. sets its position and asks for cooperation or any consultation.”