Thaad deployment

Russia upset over expansion

US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) equipment in Seongju county, North Gyeongsang province, yesterday. South Korea said it would temporarily deploy four remaining launchers for the system.
US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) equipment in Seongju county, North Gyeongsang province, yesterday. South Korea said it would temporarily deploy four remaining launchers for the system.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

XIAMEN (China) • Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said yesterday that Moscow would need to react to the expansion of a United States anti-missile defence system in South Korea.

"It inevitably will raise the question about our reaction, about our military balances," Mr Ryabkov told reporters at a summit of the Brics nations - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - in China.

Mr Ryabkov was referring to the deployment of a US-made Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) battery at a site in Seongju county, North Gyeongsang province.

South Korea said yesterday that it would temporarily deploy the four remaining launchers for the system after the completion of an environmental assessment by the government.

There are currently two launchers at the location, a former golf course.

China had said previously that it sees the deployment of the Thaad system as a threat to the region's "strategic equilibrium".

Both countries fear that the system's powerful radar could reach inside their territory, undermining their security.

The Thaad system is designed to intercept and destroy short- and medium-range ballistic missiles during their final phase of flight.

A Thaad battery is made up of six mobile launchers, 48 interceptors, AN/TPY-2 radar and the fire and control unit.

Beijing had imposed a host of measures seen as economic retaliation against South Korea for the Thaad deployment, including a ban on tour groups.

Tensions have also run high in South Korea over the deployment. Residents of the area had tried to block two US Army lorries taking the defence system to their current location, blocking the road and demanding that the equipment be sent back to the US.

They continue to block the only road leading to the site. Their concerns primarily stem from fears that the powerful radar may have adverse effects on their health.

The residents also worry that deployment of the system may make the area a target in case of a North Korean strike.

South Korean President Moon Jae In had also initially opposed the defence system, delaying the deployment pending an environmental review in an attempt to mend ties with China while seeking talks with the North.

However, following a North Korean missile launch in late July , Mr Moon appears to have had a change of heart. He subsequently ordered the relevant government bodies to begin the process of deploying the four additional launchers on a temporary basis.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2017, with the headline 'Russia upset over expansion'. Print Edition | Subscribe