Saenuri starts drumbeat in favor of Thaad shield

March 10, 2015

Korea JoongAng Daily:

Leaders of the conservative ruling party are increasingly promoting the deployment of an advanced but controversial U.S. missile defense system to Korea.

“Support has come from some party members for the deployment of the Thaad, a system to defend the country from North Korea’s nuclear missile attack,” said Rep. Yoo Seong-min, floor leader of the Saenuri Party, during the ruling party’s leadership meeting Monday.

Thaad, an acronym for the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, is a U.S. missile defense program designed to shoot down missiles closer to their point of origin than South Korea is currently capable of. The deployment of a Thaad battery to Korea has been controversial because it comes with a radar system that can cover more than 1,000 kilometers (621 miles). Both China and Russia say it is against their security interests and may be used as a method of surveillance against them.

Seoul and Washington have recently denied that they are even discussing any possible deployment.

“Personally, I have argued for introducing anti-missile systems for a long time, and I also raised the issue in the fall during a government hearing,” Yoo continued. “Now as a floor leader, I think I have the duty to collect the party’s opinions on the matter.”

Yoo said it is an important national security issue and a defense budget issue as well. “Until now, the opposition party has seemed to speak for China and North Korea,” Yoo said. “The Saenuri Party will deal with this matter solely from the national security point of view.”

Yoo said he will collect the party’s opinions at a policy meeting of the lawmakers at the end of this month.

Yoo’s remarks were the latest in a series of arguments made by senior Saenuri members to promote Thaad deployment in Korea. Reps. Won Yoo-chul, senior policy maker of the Saenuri Party, and Na Kyung-won, chairwoman of the foreign and unification affairs committee of the National Assembly, expressed their support on Sunday…

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