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(LEAD) S. Korea president says THAAD deployment inevitable but temporary

All Headlines 21:03 September 08, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with more remarks, additional information from 5th para)

SEOUL, Sept. 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in defended the government's decision to fully deploy the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system here Friday, saying it was an inevitable decision to protect his people from evolving nuclear and missile provocations from North Korea.

The president, however, hinted at possible changes in the future, calling it only a temporary decision.

"While ignoring our government and the international community's repeated demands and warnings, North Korea staged its sixth nuclear test following a series of ballistic missile launches. And due to these developments, our security situation has become more serious than ever," the president said in a released statement.

"Therefore, the government reached a decision that it could no longer delay the temporary deployment of THAAD to prevent war on the Korean Peninsula and protect the lives and safety of its people," he added.

Friday's statement came two days after the local government decided to install four additional THAAD launchers, fully installing the battalion of the U.S. missile shield.

The unexpected move prompted massive protests in Seongju, the host county of the U.S. missile defense system, located some 300 kilometers south of Seoul.

The decision came three days after the communist North staged its latest and possibly most powerful nuclear test so far on Sunday.

"While North Korea's nuclear and missile technologies continue to advance, we have no choice but to increase our defense capabilities to the maximum level," Moon insisted.

"I ask for your understanding."


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