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U.S. urges N. Korea to work toward reducing tensions after threats over THAAD

All News 04:46 July 15, 2016

WASHINGTON, July 14 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. Defense Department urged North Korea to work toward reducing tensions Thursday as the communist nation threatens to take "physical" action in response to a decision to deploy the U.S. THAAD missile defense system in South Korea.

The North's military made the threat earlier this week after the South and the U.S. announced a decision to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery in the South to better defend against growing nuclear and missile threats from the North.

The North said the deployment is aimed at invading the country.

In an apparent protest against the THAAD deployment decision, the North test-launched a submarine-launched ballistic missile on Saturday, but the test ended in failure with the missile exploding at an altitude of some 10 kilometers.

"We, obviously have seen provocative statements from the North Koreans in the past and provocative actions from the North Koreans. And again, we would urge the North Koreans to take every step they can to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula," Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said of the North's threat.

"We continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with South Korea and with our allies in the region. Deployment of the THAAD system reflects our commitment to the alliance, and appropriate steps that we're taking with our allies to try and protect against those North Korean provocations," he said.

The U.S. had long desired to deploy THAAD to the South, but Seoul had wavered over whether to accept the deployment because of strong objections from China that claimed the system, especially the powerful X-band radar that comes with it, could be used against it.

North Korea's fourth nuclear test in January and the long-range rocket launch the following month provided a strong impetus for the U.S. and South Korea to move ahead with formal discussions about the potential placement of THAAD in the South.

"We've been clear, as I believe the South Koreans have as well, that the purpose of the THAAD system, it is a defensive system. It is intended to protect against the very real threat that we've seen coming from North Korea," Cook said.

"The Chinese and the Russians should not have concerns about that system because of the way it's designed and its purpose, which is again, to protect against the very real North Korea threat," he added.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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