As tensions increase amidst North Korea’s provocative actions – including a failed missile test on Sunday in defiance of President Trump’s warnings – the US and South Korea have agreed to take action to stop the Hermit Kingdom in its tracks.
South Korea has allowed the US’s early activation of a defense system designed to shoot down North Korean missiles. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) is an advanced anti-ballistic missile system designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate ballistic missiles in their terminal phase.
The decision to activate the THAAD system came during talks between the acting South Korean President Hwang Kyo Ahn and Mike Pence, as the US Vice President warned North Korea that the “era of strategic patience is over”, according to The Independent .
At a joint press conference with Mr Pence today, Mr Hwang said: “We have agreed to further strengthen the readiness posture of [the] ROK-US alliance that matches the threats posed by North Korea through a swift deployment of THAAD.”
Pence also referred to an “iron-clad alliance” between the United States and South Korea, saying “All options are on the table to achieve the objectives and ensure the stability of the people of this country.” His comments echo that of President Trump, who, days ago, tweeted the same message.
— Vice President Pence (@VP) April 17, 2017
China and Russia have denounced the move to activate THAAD early.
Immediately after President Hwang announced the activation of THAAD, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Geng Shuang, quickly replied via news conference that China was “firmly opposed” to the deployment, and would “resolutely take measures to defend our own security interests.”
China believes THAAD is a threat to its claims in the South China Sea, which it views as its territorial possession, despite the fact that the rest of the world believes it is international water. Since the deployment of THAAD to South Korea, China has been tough on Seoul, launching economic sanctions including boycotts, canceling vacation packages and a multibillion dollar real estate project, as well as denying visas to visitors from South Korea planning trips to the world’s most populous country.
China and Russia have dispatched intelligence-gathering vessels from their navies to chase the USS Carl Vinson nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which is heading toward waters near the Korean Peninsula.