US military says THAAD unaffected by South Korea political crisis


The first elements of the -built Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense () arriving at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, March 6, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The US says it will push ahead with plans to deploy the THAAD missile system in South Korea despite the ongoing political turmoil in the East Asian country.
South Korea’s Constitutional Court has upheld a parliamentary impeachment vote against President Park Geun-hye on Friday, days after the US started deploying the controversial missile system to allegedly deter North Korea.
“Leaders change over time, that’s not new,” Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said, saying the two countries had already agreed upon the deployment and Washington would continue shipping the advanced weapon’s components.
“We made an agreement with the Republic of Korea that this was a capability that they needed… This is something that is needed militarily. That agreement was reached and we remain committed to delivering on it,” he added.
This is while the former president’s likely replacements are divided on the issue, with one calling for a review and the other telling Chinese media that the system should be rolled back.

This US Department of Defense/Missile Defense Agency handout photo shows A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched from a THAAD battery located on Wake Island in the western Pacific Ocean. (Photos by AFP)

US officials told Reuters that THAAD could become operational over the next several weeks. This is while the Pentagon has refused to provide a certain date.
 THAAD is equipped with a powerful detection system known as an X band radar that experts say would destabilize regional security and upset the region’s current military balance .
    Regional powers Russia and China have both strongly criticized the deployment of the US missile system to South Korea, vowing appropriate responses.
    The deployment was announced earlier in the week, after North Korea successfully test-fired four missiles, three of which according to Tokyo went down in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
    The US has military forces in South Korea — a long-time adversary of the North — and is deploying an advanced missile system there in response to perceived threats from Pyongyang.
    The US also occasionally deploys nuclear-powered warships and aircraft capable of carrying atomic weapons in the region.

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