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MISSILE DEFENSE
US hopes to send anti-missile system to SKorea 'as quickly as possible'
By Thomas WATKINS
Washington (AFP) Feb 8, 2016


UK summons N. Korean ambassador over rocket launch
London Feb 8, 2016 - Britain summoned North Korea's ambassador Monday to condemn Pyongyang's announcement that it had put a satellite into orbit with a rocket launch. The move announced Sunday was widely seen as a disguised ballistic missile test and was swiftly criticised by the UN Security Council. "I summoned North Korea's Ambassador today to make clear in the strongest terms the UK's condemnation of the launch this weekend," Britain's Asia Minister Hugo Swire said in a statement released by the Foreign Office. "This test, even if characterised as a space launch vehicle or launch of a satellite, clearly contributes to North Korea's development of nuclear weapon delivery systems and is a serious violation of UN Security Council Resolutions." The UN has said it will speed up work on a sanctions resolution in response to what it called "these dangerous and serious violations." Sunday's launch followed Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test last month, which drew international condemnation and prompted China and the United States to open negotiations on new, tougher UN sanctions.

The US military wants to send a sophisticated missile defense system to South Korea "as quickly as possible," the Pentagon said Monday as it seeks to counter an ever-defiant North Korea.

After Pyongyang's launch of a long-range rocket on Sunday, South Korean and US military officials said they would start formal discussions on placing the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) on the North's doorstep.

Though the launch saw North Korea successfully blast a satellite into orbit, the United Nations and world powers quickly condemned the action as evidence Pyongyang is continuing to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the US mainland.

The launch came only weeks after North Korea carried the latest in a series of underground nuclear tests.

"Without getting into a timeline, we'd like to see this move as quickly as possible," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said of a possible THAAD deployment.

"We are beginning the consultations now and in the current days with the South Koreans, and we expect that this will move in an expeditious fashion."

America's highly deployable THAAD system fires anti-ballistic missiles into the sky to smash into enemy missiles either inside or outside the Earth's atmosphere during their final flight phase.

The interceptor missiles carry no warheads, instead relying on kinetic energy to destroy their targets.

While China firmly opposes the deployment of such anti-missile hardware so close to its borders, the move to place THAAD in South Korea underscores Washington's frustrations with Beijing's failure to take a tougher line with Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons program.

Cook stressed the missile defense system was in no way meant to pose a threat to China.

"If the THAAD system were deployed to the Korean Peninsula, it would be focused solely on North Korea, contribute to a layered missile defense that would enhance the alliance's existing missile defense capabilities against potential North Korean missile threats," he said.

"This is a defensive system put in place. We don't believe it should pose any kind of concern to the Chinese."

- Rapidly deployable -

A US defense official told AFP the anti-missile system could be deployed within one to two weeks of a deployment order.

"Once... decisions are made, that (timeframe) is possible," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The THAAD system, in service since 2008, includes truck-mounted launchers, radars, interceptor missiles and global communications links.

Five THAAD batteries are currently operational, according to the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, and two more were ordered in 2014.

One of these is permanently based in Guam, home to a large US military base in the Pacific, to protect against any North Korean missiles.

About 28,500 US troops are stationed in South Korea and the two forces have very close military ties.

Cook said an eventual THAAD deployment would be operated by US forces in South Korea.

"The United States remains fully committed to the security of our allies in the region and we will take all necessary steps to defend ourselves and our allies and respond to North Korean provocations," he said.

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MISSILE DEFENSE
S. Korea, US to discuss deployment of US missile system
Seoul (AFP) Feb 7, 2016
South Korean and US defence officials said Sunday they would begin formal talks on the deployment on the Korean peninsula of a US missile defence system to counter the growing threat from North Korea. The announcement followed a North Korean rocket launch which the US and its allies condemned as a covert ballistic missile test. "It has been decided to formally start talks on the possibil ... read more


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