Thaad missile system no threat, U.S. general saysGen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the commander of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command, said the controversial deployment of a Washington-led advanced missile defense system would not pose a regional threat to neighboring countries, including China, according to South Korean lawmakers.
At a meeting with a group of South Korean lawmakers on the National Assembly’s National Defense Committee, who visited the Command Post Tango military complex on Thursday, the U.S. general told the assemblymen that the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) missiles are for South Korea’s self-defense against military threats from North Korea and are not intended to pose a threat to other neighboring countries, several South Korean lawmakers told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday.
According to the lawmakers, Scaparrotti told them that China was not obligated nor expected to have a sensitive response to the deployment of the antiballistic missile system.
In a lecture at a forum in June hosted by the state-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, Scaparrotti “recommended” to the Pentagon that the Thaad missile system be deployed in South Korea in light of Pyongyang’s persistent military shows of force.
“Because China’s strong opposition to the deployment triggered some controversy over the matter in South Korea, he appeared to be trying to send a strong message [to Beijing] and relieve any concerns about the missile system,” a South Korean military official said.
“He told us that he is reviewing the specific schedule for the deployment,” added a South Korean lawmaker who met with the commander on Thursday.
In May, Qin Gang, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, told reporters that the deployment “works against regional stability and strategic balance” and asked Washington to “fully consider [China’s] legitimate concerns.”
The anti-missile system can intercept incoming ballistic missiles at an altitude higher than 40 kilometers (24.8 miles).
It is superior to the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile system, which South Korean military is planning to adopt in 2016, which is capable of shooting down a projectile lower than 40 kilometers high.
Seoul officials said the core reason why Beijing opposes Thaad is because of its X-Band Radar, a rapidly deployable high-resolution radar designed to detect, track and identify ballistic missile threats at long distances and high altitudes, including in space.
The radar can technically detect some military bases and facilities, as well as some metropolitan cities in China like Beijing and Shanghai, Seoul officials said.
“If the Thaad system is deployed, it would be difficult for China to launch a missile across the Yellow Sea,” said Saenuri Party Rep. Han Ki-ho. “They must have considered this possibility.”
BY YOO SEONG-WOON AND KIM HEE-JIN [email@example.com]