THAAD missile system would "pose a direct threat," Chinese foreign minister says
U.S., South Korea have talked about deploying system but haven't announced anything
It's intended to protect South Korea, U.S. forces from North Korean missiles, U.S. says
China and Russia are renewing concerns over U.S. proposals to deploy a missile defense system in South Korea following a stream of nuclear tests, missile launches and provocative statements by North Korea.
“Both sides consider this move far exceeding relevant country’s actual defense needs,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a joint press conference Friday in Beijing with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.
The United States and South Korea have been discussing the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, a truck-mounted platform designed to counter short-range and medium-range ballistic missiles.
U.S. officials have said it would focus only on North Korean threats, but China has expressed concern the system could be used against its launchers.
“Once deployed, the system would pose a direct threat to the strategic security of China and Russia,” Wang said Friday. “At the same time, this move would not help resolve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula but would only add fuel to (the) fire in the already-tense situation there and harm the region’s strategic balance.”
In February, Yoo Jeh-seung, the head of defense planning for South Korea’s Defense Ministry, said his country would speak with U.S. officials about placing the system after North Korea claimed to have launched a satellite into orbit – a move some analysts saw as cover for testing of a ballistic missile system that could potentially carry nuclear warheads.
That launch was followed closely on the heels of what North Korea claimed was the test of a powerful hydrogen bomb. More recently, the secretive nation has attempted missile launches that South Korea, the United States and others see as provocative.
This week, North Korea attempted to launch two midrange missiles. Both tests are believed to have failed, a South Korean Defense Ministry official said.
Earlier this month, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the Council on Foreign Affairs that he is certain the THAAD deployment will go forward.
“It’s going to happen,” Carter said. “It’s a necessary thing.”
Despite the remarks, no deployment has been announced.
China has been outspoken in opposing deployment of the system, which U.S. officials have said would be focused exclusively on North Korea as part of a “layered missile defense” for South Korea and U.S. troops stationed there.
CNN’s Steven Jiang contributed to this report.