This handout photo taken on November 1, 2015 and received by the US Department of Defense/Missile Defense Agency shows a THAAD interceptor being launched from a THAAD battery located on Wake Island in the Pacific Ocean, during the Flight Test Operational (FTO)-02 Event 2a. (Via AFP)
Beijing has called for the immediate suspension of a controversial American anti-missile system deployed to South Korea
hours after Washington announced the system, known as THAAD, is now operational.
’s position is clear-cut and firm. We oppose the deployment of the THAAD system in (South Korea
) and urge relevant sides to immediately stop the deployment. We will firmly take necessary measures to uphold our interests,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing on Tuesday.
In July last year, Washington and Seoul agreed to the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery in the wake of missile tests by North Korea, deemed to be threatening by the West.
Pyongyang has been subjected to international pressure, including US sanctions and Security Council resolutions, to abandon its arms development and nuclear programs. Yet, it says the programs are meant to protect the country from US hostility.
Beijing further expressed support for US President Donald Trump’s remarks that he was open to a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Trump said on Monday that he “would be honored” to meet with Kim in appropriate conditions, dialing down earlier threats of “a major, major conflict with North Korea”.
“China has always believed that dialog and consultation… is the only realistic and viable way to achieve denuclearization,” Geng further said.
“We also said many times that the US and DPRK… should make political decisions at an early date, take action and show good faith so that we can create a better atmosphere for resuming the peace talks and settling the issue,”he added, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have significantly spiked in recent weeks.
The United States, concerned by North Korea’s rapidly-developing missile and nuclear programs, has sent a strike force and submarine to the peninsula. Pyongyang has said it is ready for war. The two sides have been increasingly trading threats of military action against one another.