South Korea cautious on US missile defence deployment

Seoul, Sep 22 (IANS) South Korea on Tuesday showed a cautious stance on the deployment of an advanced US missile defence system called Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) on the Korean peninsula, the media reported.

Jeong Kyeong-doo, who was named as the air force chief a week earlier, said the THAAD deployment has merits and demerits from the military perspective.

He said the defence ministry would decide on it after considering various security situations, including national interest, reported Xinhua news agency.

The defence ministry of South Korea has maintained “strategic ambiguity” on the issue, which is billed as “three Nos” — No request, No consultation and No decision.

It means that there has been no request from the US for the THAAD deployment and no consultations between Seoul and Washington over the issue, and no decision has been made yet.

Jeong said preconditions are required to run a THAAD battery on the peninsula, citing the linkage of the missile defence system to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets, which mean an array of airborne surveillance and reconnaissance platforms.

Jeong said the THAAD would have effectiveness only when an integrated system between the ISR assets and the THAAD is established to detect, identify and intercept missiles on a real-time basis given the short distance of the peninsula.

North Korea’s short-range missiles and multiple rocket launchers are known to be capable of striking Seoul within a minute and the entire South Korean territory in 10 minutes.

Pyongyang is believed to own at least 700 short-range attack missiles, which fly at an altitude of less than 20 km.

The THAAD is designed to shoot down missiles at an altitude of 40-150 km. South Korea is developing its own missile defence technology, called Korea Air and Missile Defence (KAMD), to intercept missiles at an altitude of less than 40 km.

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