by Staff Writers
Moscow (XNA) Feb 23, 2016
The deployment of an advanced U.S. missile system in South Korea in the wake of the launch of a satellite by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) earlier this month could raise tension in the region, a Russian expert warned Thursday.
The deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) "will lead to a dangerous increase in tension between the United States and a number of Northeast Asian nations," Yevgeni Kim told Xinhua in an interview.
Kim, a senior researcher at the Center for Korean Studies of Russian Academy of Sciences, said the move is aimed at Russia and China, rather than at the DPRK as it claimed.
Washington and Seoul started earlier this month to negotiate the deployment of THAAD to South Korea in response to the launch of a satellite by the DPRK.
The launch, which took place about a month after Pyongyang claimed it had successfully tested its first hydrogen bomb, raised serious concerns around the world as many considered it was a test of a ballistic missile that could be used to launch a nuclear weapon.
Kim said that though the United States cited DPRK' move as a pretext for deploying THAAD, it is the DPRK's two bigger neighbors that THAAD is targeted.
The THAAD system was designed to intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles at an altitude of over 50 km, but if the DPRK wanted to use nuclear weapons against South Korea, it would use rockets that fly at much lower altitudes, Kim said.
"The deployment of the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea is not directed against the DPRK. DPRK's nuclear activity is just an excuse," Kim said.
Kim recalled the United States and the Soviet Union signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty in 1972, which for a number of years contained the development of new missile defense systems.
However the treaty was terminated as the United States withdrew in 2002.
"Now the United States is talking more and more about new missile defense areas and about the need for a global missile defense system," Kim said.
He also noted that the United States had not abandoned its plan to deploy missile systems in Europe even after the alleged Iranian missile threat, which the systems are said to counter, was gone.
"Now they are applying the same pattern for the Korean peninsula," he said.
Kim suggested that the deployment of the THAAD system in South Korea is aimed at intercepting Russian and Chinese ballistic missiles that could be launched in retaliation against a possible U.S. nuclear strike.
"It is a step that undermines the global balance of power, and the existing security system in Northeast Asia," Kim said.
China opposes deployment of THAAD in S. Korea: vice FM
Xinhua interviewed Zhang on the sidelines of the seventh high-level strategic dialogue between the foreign affairs ministries of China and South Korea.
Zhang said that the current situation on the Korean Peninsula is both extremely complicated and extremely sensitive. China has always steadfastly sticked to the denuclearization of the peninsula and tried to maintain peace and stability on the peninsula, always having been committed to solving the issue through dialogue and negotiation.
China supports efforts at the United Nations Security Council to agree on a new and forceful resolution as soon as possible, he said.
"Sanctions are not an end in themselves," Zhang said. "We still would have to find a fundamental solution through dialogue and talks."
He said China is seriously concerned over the intention of the United States and South Korea to hold talks on deploying THAAD in South Korea.
Pyongyang launched a satellite-carrying rocket, which Seoul sees as a cover for a long-range ballistic missile, on Feb. 7, after conducting its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6.
The United States and South Korea said they have decided to discuss the deployment of THAAD. As one of the most advanced missile defense systems in the world, THAAD can intercept and destroy ballistic missiles inside or just outside the atmosphere during their final phase of flight.
Zhang said the deployment of such a system would exacerbate regional tensions and seriously harm China's strategic security interests as well as the security interests of other countries in the region.
China clearly opposes the deployment of THAAD in South Korea, he said.
"We are hoping that the related parties would seriously consider the concerns of China and be prudent with what they do," he said.
Source: Xinhua News Agency
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