S. Korean official suspended over US missile defense report

by Frankie Norman June 6, 2017, 5:52

Chung Eui-yong, head of the National Security Office of the Blue House, addressed the latest controversy surrounding the USA deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or Thaad system.

Moon's conservative predecessor, Park Geun-hye, had allowed the United States to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system to deal with North Korean nuclear threats. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., had said if South Korea does not want to continue with THAAD deployment the defense budget could be assigned elsewhere.

South Korea disputed local press reports claiming a visiting USA senator said portions of the US defense budget going toward the deployment of the missile defense system THAAD could be reallocated if deployment is overturned.

During the meeting Moon told Durbin that the probe into the THAAD issue was not meant to reverse the deployment agreement between Seoul and Washington but to conduct it with appropriate domestic procedures, according to the presidential office.

It's unclear if Moon will go ahead with his campaign pledge to re-examine the THAAD deployment because a request for the withdrawal of the system's components could severely undermine ties with Washington, Seoul's most important ally, analysts say.

Yoon said senior Defense Ministry officials didn't report the arrival of the additional launchers when they gave Moon's policy advisory committee a briefing last Thursday. But the strongest opposition to the move came from China, which sees THAAD as a threat to its national security, both due to the range of its radar and because of its potential to pave way for further deployments in the region. Meanwhile, China took it as an opportunity to further voice its opposition to the US weapon system.

"I am not sure how much of our discussion will be on Thaad", he said, "but I am here to confirm Moon's itinerary for the summit".

The THAAD battery was equipped with two launchers out of a maximum capacity of six when it was deployed in South Korea in March before Moon became president.

Wee acknowledged giving such order and apparently told the top office that he made the judgment based on an agreement of confidentiality over THAAD between South Korea and the U.S. Even when North Korea carried out its fifth nuclear test two months later, the US and South Korea did not explicitly change their timeline for deploying THAAD.

That said, Moon insisted Wednesday that he isn't seeking to reverse the current deployment arrangement between Washington and Seoul, which was reached last July. Second, military confrontation, which we should take every measure to avoid.

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