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S. Korea has no plan to buy, deploy U.S. MD on its soil: defense chief

All Headlines 16:39 June 18, 2014

SEOUL, June 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has made it clear that it has no plan to buy an advanced missile defense (MD) system from the United States and deploy it on Korean soil, Seoul's defense chief said Wednesday.

His remarks during the parliamentary interpellation session came as the U.S. has been considering deploying the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery in South Korea, an integral part of the U.S.-led air defense system.

"The plan to deploy THAAD here is under discussion by the U.S. side. We've made it clear that we have no plan to purchase the missile system and deploy it here," Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said.

THAAD is designed to shoot down short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles at a higher altitude in their terminal phase, using a hit-to-kill method.

The plan has drawn keen attention as its deployment here would mean that Seoul joins the U.S. air defense system, also joined by Japan. Despite mounting pressure from Washington, South Korea has rebuffed the option because the participation in the MD system would hurt Seoul's relations with China.

"We've asked the U.S. for data on THAAD battery as a reference to use in establishing our own interceptor system," he noted.

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The defense chief, however, said South Korea "does not care if the U.S. Forces Korea adopts and deploys the system here" as it will "boost the capacity to shoot down North Korean ballistic missiles."

Asked about possible concerns or complaints from China about the THAAD system on the Korean Peninsula, the defense chief said neither its range nor altitude would threaten China.

In a move to strengthen trilateral cooperation with the U.S. and Japan, he vowed to push for a deal to share military intelligence with the allies to better guard against the communist North.

"This cooperation is confined to sharing intelligence on North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, and the government will push for the issue in a transparent way while seeking understanding from the public," Kim said.

The bilateral military intelligence pact was reached between Seoul and Washington, and between Tokyo and Washington, but not between Seoul and Tokyo.

South Korea and Japan had come close to signing a pact on boosting exchanges of military intelligence on North Korea in 2012, but Seoul dropped the plan due to a wave of public opposition.

Many South Koreans still resent Japan for its colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula from 1910-1945, with the right-wing Shinzo Abe administration's continued attempts to whitewash its wartime atrocities worsening the situation.


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