Lippert attack puts focus on THAAD

March 10, 2015

Korea Times:

Rival parties are engaged in a war over a possible deployment of the U.S. advanced missile interceptor, or THAAD, on Korean soil.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system is widely regarded as the core of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system. China alleges that any deployment in Korea would be targeting it.

Amid growing concerns over the ROK-U.S. alliance in the wake of an attack on U.S. Ambassador to Korea Mark Lippert last week, the ruling Saenuri Party first touched on the hot-button issue in support of deployment.

Washington has urged Seoul to join its ballistic missile defense system, but the latter has resisted the call due to the strong opposition from China, Korea’s No. 1 trading partner.

“Personally, I spoke up for the need to deploy THAAD at last year’s Assembly interpellation session, but now as the floor leader, I have a responsibility to collect opinions on the issue within the party,” Rep. Yoo Seong-min said during a party meeting, Monday.

Yoo chaired the National Assembly National Defense Committee from July 2012 to May 2014.

“At the party’s general meeting, scheduled for late March, I will try to decide on an official party platform after discussions,” he said.

“The deployment of THAAD is a matter of the nation’s survival regarding how to defend itself from North Korean nuclear strikes,” he added.

“The opposition party appears to defend the North’s position in terms of THAAD, but we will just discuss the issue from the point of view of national security.”

Yoo’s remarks came one day after his party members promoted the U.S. missile defense system in Korea.

Rep. Won Yoo-chul, the party’s chief policymaker, told reporters Sunday that he is in favor of bringing THAAD to Korea because the primary goal of the move by the U.S. is to protect its troops here and their families.

Rep. Na Kyung-won, who heads the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee, said in a radio interview on the same day that she sees a “high necessity” for the deployment, calling for the government to convince China, if necessary.

Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of the U.S. Forces Korea, said last June that he had recommended the THAAD deployment to the U.S. government amid the North efforts to modernize its weapons. Washington reportedly completed a site inspection early last year, as well…

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