The United States fired back at China, Tuesday, over Beijing’s objection to its deployment of an advanced U.S missile defense system on the Korean Peninsula.
“I find it curious that a third country would presume to make strong representations about a security system that has not been put in place and is still a matter of theory,” Daniel Russel, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told reporters after meeting Deputy Minister for Political Affairs Lee Kyung-soo in Seoul.
The U.S. diplomat, however, added that it was up to Seoul to “decide what measures it will take in its own defense alliance and when” regarding the possible deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) on Korean soil.
THAAD is an U.S. anti-ballistic missile system that can shoot down short, medium and intermediate ballistic missiles at a higher altitude in their terminal phase using a hit-to-kill method.
Russel reiterated Washington’s explanation that THAAD’s primary purpose is to deter North Korean military threats.
“I do know that the Republic of Korea and the United States face a significant threat from North Korea’s growing ballistic missile program,” Russel said.
“It’s a program that North Korea is pursuing in violation of international law and our military authorities have a responsibility to consider systems that will protect the Republic of Korea and its citizens, as well as protecting the United States from that threat.”
Russel’s remarks came after Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao asked South Korea to consider carefully its position over THAAD amid a growing confrontation between the world’s two superpowers.
Liu, who had a separate meeting with Lee, Monday, asked Seoul and Washington to make a “sound judgment” over the disputed U.S. missile interceptors.
Russel told reporters THAAD was not on the agenda in his meeting with Lee. But he said that it is “very much in the public domain now” because of Liu’s comment Monday…