The United States advanced missile defense system Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), which is being installed in South Korea to mitigate threats by Pyongyang, will soon be operational. According to the CNN, US Pacific Command chief Adm. Harry Harris told the House Armed Services Committee that the THAAD missile defense system would be “operational in the coming days to be able to better defend South Korea against the growing North Korea threat.”
The South Korean Defense Ministry said Wednesday that parts of the system had been moved to the planned deployment site. It also confirmed the start of full-scale deployment.The THAAD system has been moved to South Korea in response to North Korea’s increased missile and nuclear tests. However, China and Russia have opposed the deployment, who see it as also equalizing their nuclear deterrents.
Earlier the goal was to have the complete system fully operational by the end of this year but the two allies have publicly stressed the need to speed up the deployment. Adm. Harris said it was “preposterous” that China would take economic steps to try to stop South Korea from receiving a defensive system, which the US insists does not pose a threat to Beijing.
He added said that Washington was taking North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at his word that he is determined to develop a long-range nuclear missile that could strike the US and that should “provide us all a sense of urgency” to ensure US forces in the Pacific are prepared. He said providing “credible combat power” was the best way to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
“We want to bring Kim Jong Un to his senses, not to his knees,” Harris said.