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THAAD to "dramatically" enhance capacity to counter NK threat: defense chief

All News 22:27 June 06, 2016

SEOUL, June 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's defense chief said Monday the possible deployment of a U.S. advanced missile defense system on South Korean soil will help "dramatically" enhance Seoul's capacity to counter North Korea's missile threats.

Seoul and Washington are discussing the potential deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery on South Korean soil, host to about 28,500 American troops.

"If the THAAD is deployed to U.S. forces in Korea, our capability will be dramatically enhanced," Defense Minister Han Min-koo said in an interview with CNN on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, which ended its three-day run on Sunday in Singapore.

Han said that the THAAD deployment will have "military benefits" as Seoul has limitations to deterring North Korea's evolving missile threats.

The Shangri-La Dialogue highlighted a deepening row between South Korea and China over THAAD as China has explicitly expressed again its opposition to Washington's move to deploy it on South Korean soil.

North Korea has carried out nuclear and missile provocations, claiming that the country has succeeded in making a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on a ballistic missile.

"We assess that (North Korea's) miniaturization capability has advanced to a great degree, but we do not have solid evidence that they have actually achieved it," Han said through a translator.

But the defense chief said that if North Korea continues to make progress in its miniaturization technology, it may be possible for the North to deliver it in other ways such as an artillery shell or the form of nuclear mine.

Han stressed the need to keep pressure on North Korea and implement sanctions to make it give up its nuclear weapons program.

In early March, the U.N. Security Council slapped tougher sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear test in January and long-range rocket launch in the following month.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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