U.S. military deploys advanced defensive missile system to South Korea, citing North Korean threat

The U.S. military began deploying an advanced defensive missile system to South Korea on Monday, a long-awaited move that was agreed upon with the government in Seoul last summer and follows a series of provocations by North Korea.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system does not use warheads and is designed to shoot down enemy ballistic missiles like the ones launched by Pyongyang into the Sea of Japan on Sunday. The deployment comes despite protests from Chinese officials, who have said repeatedly over the last year that it is threat to Chinese security.

“Continued provocative actions by North Korea, to include yesterday’s launch of multiple missiles, only confirm the prudence of our alliance decision last year to deploy THAAD to South Korea,” said Navy Adm. Harry Harris, chief of the U.S. Pacific Command. “We will resolutely honor our alliance commitments to South Korea and stand ready to defend ourselves, the American homeland, and our allies.”

China warned Tuesday that South Korea would face “consequences” for hosting the THAAD system and stepped up retaliatory measures against South Korean business interests.

The deployment was announced as North Korean state media reported that the four missiles Pyongyang launched Sunday were practice for a North Korean attack on U.S. military bases in Japan. Three of the missiles traveled about 600 miles over North Korea and the Sea of Japan before landing inside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone. The fourth landed just outside the EEZ.

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