US deploys first elements of anti-missile system in South Korea

North Korea's ballistic missile test off Japan's coast creates global unease. UN Security Council emergency meeting requested as Trump calls Japan's Abe and South Korea's acting president to reassure US support.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

The deployment of the US military's THAAD anti-missile defence system in South Korea will be complete in one to two months and it will be operational as early as April, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported on Tuesday.

The United States deployed the first elements of its advanced Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system to South Korea following North Korea's test of four ballistic missiles, US Pacific Command said on Tuesday.

The announcement came as North Korean state media said DPRK leader Kim Jong-un had personally supervised Monday's missile launches, stepping up threats against Washington as US troops conduct joint military exercises with South Korea. State media said the tests were part of a drill evaluating potential strikes against US bases in Japan.

"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," US Pacific Commander Admiral Harry Harris said.

TRT World's Mayu Yoshida in Tokyo has more.

Controversial system

The move has become not only a tension point with North Korea, but also with China.

China is worried the system's radar may be used by the US to spy on its military.

On Tuesday, China said it will take unspecified measures against THAAD being deployed and warned that Washington and Seoul will bear the consequences.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China "firmly opposes" the deployment of the missile defence system

"We will definitely be taking necessary measures to safeguard our own security interest."

Meanwhile, Russia's Foreign Ministry said the deployment is bringing the situation in the Korean peninsula into a stalemate.

Huddles and reactions

The US and Japan have also requested a UN Security Council meeting on North Korea's tests. The council will hold an emergency meeting on the issue on Wednesday.

US President Donald Trump told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe the US was with Japan "100 percent" in a phone conversation after Pyongyang’s move.

"President Trump told me that the United States was with Japan 100 percent and that he wanted his comments to be communicated to the Japanese people," Abe said at his residence. "He said he wanted us to trust him as well as the United States 100 percent," he added.

Pentagon said both leaders agreed the launches were "unacceptable and irresponsible.”

Trump also discussed possible plans to respond to the missile launch with South Korea's acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn.

TRTWorld and agencies