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U.S. push to deploy THAAD in S. Korea will continue: Seoul

All News 17:26 February 29, 2016

SEOUL, Feb. 29 (Yonhap) -- The United States will remain unchanged in its push to deploy its advanced anti-ballistic missile system known as THAAD in South Korea, a defense ministry official here said Monday.

Earlier this month, South Korea and the U.S. launched talks on the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, to counter North Korea's increasing nuclear and missile threats.

The bilateral negotiations were abruptly put on hold by the U.S. last week without specific reasons, sparking speculations the country may scrap the deployment plan, severely opposed by China, in order to win Beijing's support for the United Nations' adoption of a punitive resolution on North Korea.

Asked whether the U.S. would reverse the plan, Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun said, "The U.S.' position is predicted to stay put."

"The THAAD (talks) were launched upon the shared understanding that it could help defend South Korea and is needed to protect American citizens living in South Korea," the spokesman said.

That understanding is still effective, he said.

North Korea conducted a long-range rocket launch to put a satellite into orbit on Feb. 7, which the outside world regards as a cover for testing its intercontinental ballistic missile technology. The launch followed the communist country's fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6.

Internally the THAAD deployment is highly controversial, with opponents suspecting detrimental effects the deployment could have on Seoul-Beijing relations as well as on the health of South Koreans and the environment.

The ministry will consider ways to take such health and environmental concerns into the negotiations with the U.S., Moon said.

In the face of rising public concerns and curiosities over THAAD, the ministry has recently created a new section on its Web site, detailing the function and role that the missile interceptor will play in South Korea if it is brought into the country.

The posted information said THAAD has shown 100-percent accuracy in the 11 rounds of test firing conducted in the past.

THAAD is also capable of intercepting North Korea's short to semi-mid-range ballistic missiles -- Scud, Rodong and Musudan -- which have a maximum range of 3,000 kilometers.

It also claimed THAAD's radar component does not have any serious harmful effects to the health of people or the environment. But some experts said some of the claims are not completely verified.

pbr@yna.co.kr
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