Just two days after the latest provocation by North Korea in violation of the United Nations ban on their testing of ballistic missiles, President Trump has delivered the first pieces of the United States latest anti-missile system to the divided peninsula. Last night, U.S. Military transport planes landed at the Osan Air Base in South Korea carrying the start of the THAAD anti-missile system. The defense system designed to mitigate the threat of North Korean ballistic missiles to South Korea, Japan and the United States.
Their arrival comes just one day after North Korea threatened to launch a preemptive strike against targets in Japan and the U.S. Mainland after the rouge nation violated once again a ban of test launches of any type. The most recent tests sent 4 missiles to the waters of the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea.
China is opposing the deployment of the system known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which it sees as a threat to its security. On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “We will firmly take necessary measures to preserve our own security interest, and the US and South Korea must bear the potential consequences.”
But North Korea has continued to ignore testing bans by the United Nations. Meanwhile the US and South Korea have stressed the need to speed up the deployment of the technology. The system is non-aggressive, it’s designed to shoot down incoming missiles that threaten civilian populations.
“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,” Adm. Harry Harris, commander, US Pacific Command, said.
The decision to deploy THAAD was made in July of last year, and President Trump has said he’s committed to following through. That decision was backed up again last week, when US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and South Korean Defense Secretary Han Min-koo spoke over the phone and agreed that THAAD should be deployed “ASAP.”
While the THAAD system isn’t the perfect answer to the issue, because it won’t completely shield the US and its allies from the North Korean missile threat. It’s “aimed solely at defending South Korea against missiles from North Korea,” according to US Forces in Korea. If North Korea were to launch a series of missiles simultaneously the system could fail and it’s not effective against submarine-launched ballistic missiles launched from south, east or west of lower South Korea, according to a report from the North Korea monitoring group 38 North.
THAAD can detect and track targets within a range of about 1,000 kilometers, the report said, so it may not stop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). NK leader Kim Jong Un said his country is in the final stages of developing an ICBM, which could reach the west coast of the United States. But President Trump vowed that “it won’t happen” in a tweet prior to his inauguration.