North Korea, not China, the reason behind THAAD deployment: expert

Seoul is likely to reverse the deployment of the US-backed Terminal High Altitude Areas Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system, which Beijing sees as a severe threat to its national security, if China can help curb North Korea's nuclear ambition, according to a former South Korean government official.

In a recent interview with the Sino-US.com, Kim Min-seok, a former spokesman of South Korea's defense ministry, said that the deployment of the THAAD defense system in South Korea did not take aim at China's DF-15 short-range ballistic missile system and was driven by concerns over the nuclear threat from North Korea, an isolated country that owns 1,000 ballistic missiles.

Kim denied the view that the deployment of the THAAD defense system in South Korea is a part of Seoul's plan to connect with America's national defense system, saying that the US-produced Patriot missile system is unable to protect all of South Korean territory due to the system's short interception range of 20 kilometers.

The Patriot missile system deployed around Seoul can protect the capital city from North Korea's missiles but it cannot safeguard the regions such as Ulsan and Busan, where strategic infrastructures such as nuclear power station are located, said Kim.

"If North Korea launches missiles to Ulsan and Busan, it will be a deadly blow to South Korea. So, this is the reason why the South Korean military deployed the THAAD defense system," noted Kim. "People in South Korea have been facing the threat of North Korean missiles, and the deployment of the THAAD defense system concerns the core interest of South Korea."

Kim also said that South Korea did not want to be involved in America's national missile defense system and the strategic game between China and the US. Previously, many South Korean media organizations ran articles noting that the deployment of the THAAD defense system would drag South Korea into the quagmire.

Kim explained that the THAAD defense system has two types of radars, with one allowing a detection range of 2,000 kilometers being deployed in Japan and the other having a detection range of 800 kilometers being installed in South Korea.

In light of it, Kim said that what type of radar will be used in South Korea's THAAD defense system created some misunderstandings in China at the very beginning. "South Korea will not be used by the US to intercept the Chinese missiles. And the basic reason behind the deployment of the THAAD defense system lies in the fear about North Korea's missiles," Kim explained.

Kim admitted that the THAAD issue is of strategic importance to China but he also suggested that Beijing should give a hand to the resolution of the North Korean nuclear crisis as part of its efforts to keep the stability and peace in East Asia.
 


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