US, South Korea agree to deploy THAAD amid rising tensions
SEOUL, South Korea — The United States and South Korea agreed Friday to deploy an advanced missile defense system on the peninsula amid rising tensions over the North’s nuclear weapons program. China swiftly denounced the plan.
The decision came two days after the U.S. slapped new sanctions on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other top officials for alleged human rights abuses. The North said Thursday those sanctions were tantamount to declaring war.
South Korea began talks with the U.S. on the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, known as THAAD, after North Korea staged its fourth underground test in January, followed a month later by a long-range rocket launch that sent a satellite into orbit. Seoul had been hesitant because of Chinese objections.
A joint working group is close to determining the best location for THAAD, and the plan is to have the system in operation by the end of next year at the latest, a senior South Korean official said Friday.
Despite a new round of tough U.N. sanctions, North Korea has defiantly staged several other missile tests in recent months, including firing one from a submarine and launching a mid-range ballistic missile at least 620 miles high.
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