PN's Voice 87

Peace Network Korea
PN's Voice 87, 14-07-2016
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PN's Voice No. 87   14. 07. 2016 
Small steps, Road to peace

South Korea and US Agree to Deploy THAAD

US and South Korean military officials have said they are ready to deploy THAAD – an advanced US missile defence system - in South Korea to cope with North Korean threats; a move likely to raise strong objections in Beijing, Moscow and Pyongyang.

Seoul and Washington launched formal talks on deploying the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) after North Korea conducted a nuclear test and a long-range rocket launch earlier this year. China, Russia and North Korea say the deployment could help US radars spot missiles in their countries.

On Friday, South Korea’s deputy defence minister for policy, Yoo Jeh-seung said that Seoul and Washington would quickly deploy the system because North Korea’s growing weapons capabilities posed a big threat to the region. At the same news conference, Lt Gen Thomas S Vandal, the commanding general of the US Eighth Army in South Korea, said North Korea’s pursuit of weapons of mass destruction required that the allies ensure they can defend themselves, and that THAAD was critical to their defensive strategy. Worries about North Korea grew last month when, after a string of failures, it finally sent a new mid-range ballistic missile more than 870 miles (1,400km) high. Analysts say the high-altitude flight of the Musudan missile meant that North Korea had made progress in its push to be able to strike US forces throughout the region.

THAAD is also a source of tension between Washington and Beijing, which is a traditional ally of North Korea. On Friday, China’s foreign ministry swiftly criticized the move. “China expresses strong dissatisfaction and resolute objection to this,” it said on its website. Beijing feels that the US’ true intention of deploying THAAD in South Korea is to keep tabs on China, rather than the official line of curbing the North Korean threat.
Source : BBC News, The Guardian

Seongju Confirmed as Site for THAAD

South Korea and the United States announced yesterday Seongju County, North Gyeongsang Province will be the site for a battery of the controversial THAAD missile defence system. The choice of site has come in for criticism as the missile shield will leave Seoul and its surrounding areas vulnerable to North Korean missiles because its maximum intercept range is about 200 kilometers. Seongju is located some 290 kilometers southeast of Seoul. Because of this, some analysts are raising questions about the necessity of having the system on South Korean soil — some even claim that the main mission of the battery is to protect U.S. military bases here.

Announcing the location, the South Korean military said the THAAD battery will be operational from late next year. The military said it will deploy more ground-to-air missiles near Seoul to defend the capital from North Korean missiles.

It remains to be seen if North Korea will make any military provocations against the South and the United States, as it threatened Monday to make "merciless" retaliatory strikes against them from the moment the location for THAAD was selected.

According to the military, the THAAD battery to be deployed in Seongju County will be funded by the United States, so its main mission here is to protect American troops and their bases rather than Seoul and its surrounding areas. If deployed in Seongju County, the system can protect key U.S. facilities in Pyeongtaek, Geyonggi Province; Daegu; and Gunsan, North Jeolla Province. Cheong Seong-chang, a senior fellow at the Sejong Institute, said the following on the matter; "The primary goal of deploying THAAD here is to protect U.S. troops and its equipment. In that respect, do we need to compromise our diplomatic relations with Beijing, who bought 26 percent of all Korean exports last year by allowing the THAAD deployment?"
Source : The Korea Times

SK Continues to Reject NK’s Proposals to Meet

North Korea has made a series of proposals to meet with the South Korean government over the past two months following its party congress in May, suggesting any misunderstanding between the two could be resolved once they sit down together, but Seoul has rejected all these proposals, saying they lack sincerity since the North is still pursuing its nuclear weapons program.

Despite Seoul’s firm stance that it will not sit down with the North unless the latter ends its nuclear development, Pyongyang has continued making overtures. Its latest proposal is for a joint meeting of 100 politicians and social leaders from each side to mark the upcoming August 15th Liberation Day.
North Korea’s two-month overture to the South might now come to an end as Seoul and Washington decided on the site of the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system. There is concern that Pyongyang may believe it now has more room for maneuver to initiate its fifth underground nuclear test because of the decision to deploy THAAD.
Source : Joongang Daily

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