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Russia gripes about Korea leaning to U.S.’s Thaad

July 26,2014
Moscow expressed alarm that South Korea seemed to be leaning toward deploying an American antiballistic missile system and indicated such a move may fuel an arms race in the region.

But the U.S. State Department dismissed such concerns and said the American Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) is not a threat to Russia.

In a statement Thursday, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that deployment of Washington’s missile defense battery “will inevitably negatively affect the regional strategic situation and may stir up an arms race in Northeast Asia,” as well as complicate resolving the nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula.

It expressed concern over Washington’s move to bring “an American global missile defense system” to South Korean soil.

Russia has opposed U.S. plans to expand its missile defense shield as relations with Washington have plummeted, especially since the start of the Ukraine crisis.

Korea’s new Minister of National Defense Han Min-koo said in an interview on July 20 that the U.S-led Thaad “if deployed on the Korean Peninsula, will be helpful in controlling North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations and strengthening the security posture” in the region.

Former Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said Korea had no intention of deploying the Thaad and that the military would stick with updating the Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system, which has a smaller scope than the U.S. system.

Han’s remarks indicated Seoul may be leaning toward the U.S. missile system, and defense analysts surmise that it is only a matter of time before Thaad is brought onto the Korean Peninsula, a move which would also concern Beijing.

“Such statements cannot but make us alarmed, as the South Korean leadership had earlier stated repeatedly that the country intended to ward off probable missile threats through their own forces,” said Russia’s Foreign Ministry.

Russia encouraged South Korean leaders to “weigh thoroughly the possible aftermath” should it agree to the Thaad system, which would “certainly have a negative impact on global strategic stability.”

But the U.S State Department said yesterday that the Thaad system is not aimed at Russia.

“We have been very clear that it is not aimed at them,” U.S State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a briefing Thursday, “and we will continue talking to them and being transparent with them about why we are doing what we are doing.”

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]







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