Mattis Reiterates Need for THAAD in South Korea

Defense Secretary James Mattis reassured South Korea that it is moving forward with the deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, even though China and Russia voiced opposition to the move. The US and South Korea last year agreed to deploy the THAAD system in the face of increased missile testing by North Korea. Mattis, in his first overseas visit as Secretary, met with South Korean leaders last week. Speaking with reporters en route, Mattis said THAAD is needed “for defense of our allies” and troops deployed to the peninsula. “And were it not for the provocative behavior of North Korea, we would have no need for THAAD out there,” he added. “There’s no other nation that needs to be concerned about THAAD other than North Korea if they’re engaged in something that’s offensive.” Russian officials warned that THAAD would bring a “dangerous impact” to the region, and Russia would take steps “to ensure our security,” said Alexander Timonin, Russian ambassador to South Korea, according to the Korea Herald. Chinese officials said on Friday it opposes the deployment, saying it threatens that country’s security, Reuters reported.

See also: Keeping Peace in Korea from the November 2016 issue of Air Force Magazine.